Nepal – Celebrating Maha Shivaratri (the Night of Shiva)

Maha Shivaratri or Shivaratri (the Night of Shiva) is a festival celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day in the waning moon of the month Phalguna in the Hindu Calendar. The night of Shiva is one of the most sacred festivals of Hindus, celebrated just before the arrival of spring. Devotees offering fruits, flowers and bael (bilva) leaves to the Lord Shiva linga. They fast during the day and vigil all night long. It is a festival of fertility, love and joy. One of the interesting aspects of Shivaratri is that only on this day devotees alike to smoke freely marijuana and drink bhang, a preparation from the leaves and flowers (buds) of the female cannabis plant. Many people take these intoxicants as prasad, a holy food blessed by the Gods in the belief that it pleases Lord Shiva for he too is said to be fond of it. The Puran, one of the many holy texts of the Hindus, tells us that if you worship Lord Shiva on this day all your sins will be forgiven. By Matthijs Blonk - 2010