Maha Shivaratri 2018 (Night of the Shiva) is on 13 February 2018 and is considered one of the greatest festivals for the devotees of Shiva as well as all the Hindu pilgrims around Nepal and India. Though bearing many Myths of origin, one of the popular and widely accepted is that in the era of Gods and Demons, during Samudra Manthan, blending ocean, deathly poison was created. Fearing that it would wipe the world dead, the Gods and Demons, both side appealed Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva, also Shankar, Bhole, himself drank the poison, thus acquiring blue throat, where poison was stored and saving the whole world. To celebrate this very moment, Shivaratri was celebrated by gods and demons. Since then it has been celebrated every year in late winter, before spring, in the 13th night /14th day of lunisolar months(February/March).
Pashupatinath, one of the World Heritage Site, being one of the holiest shrines of Lord Shiva, we can spectate a huge crowd of Hindu devotees, foreigners to witness the grandeur of the day and several other people to celebrate the Shiva Ratri. Not only in Pashupatinath but people celebrate the day in the local areas, Shiva’s temples nearby or within their houses burning a bonfire and carrying Aarati, a special worshipping of God with lights.
On the way to Pashupatinath
one of the major place for Shivaratri celebration is Pashupatinath. Due to the excessive crowd of devotees and tourists, you might not be able to enter the premises in any sort of vehicle so it is highly recommended that You can take the cab to the nearest of premises that are accessible with a vehicle, and then join the crowd for a walk towards the temple. The massive crowd of devotees may be a little alarming site but if you are to go there in a group or take a guide along with you then you would rather enjoy walking towards the temple, which in itself a different experience. There is a popular belief that whoever enters Pashupatinath during Shivaratri will not return empty stomach. This, in fact, is true as you will find several people within the periphery of Pashupatinath, distributing or offering delicacies as prasad. Some prasad might have been tainted with bhang but it is an exclusive taste of the festival. However, if you are hesitant, you can politely refuse it. You might find a huge line of devotees at the entrance of the main temple which is only accessible to Hindu Pilgrims. For a Hindu Devotee, you have to wait for your turn to enter the main temple, however, for the other spectators, you can observe the grandeur around the temple. Since there is a huge crowd during Shivaratri, it's better for you to travel light.
Atmosphere around Pashupatinath
Do you know about huge crowd during Shivaratri in Pashupatinath?
Many pilgrims from India and Nepal and many tourists from around the world, show up in the area, to celebrate, worship and witness the grand festivity and convivial of Shivaratri, where people burn huge bonfires place to place, and worship Shiva with a huge Aarati.
The Grand Aarati is another spectacle of the festival which happens in and outside the temple. Priests carry out a grand arati at the Banks of Bagmati river, in the ghat and devotees gather around to offer their prayers. You can also be the part of the event and enjoy the spectacle or if you are not keen, you can stay away, you can make yourselves comfortable either way, the huge premises of Pashupatinath provides abundant space for you to feel the fever of Maha Shivaratri.
Another highlight of Shivaratri is the Sadhu and Saints in Pashupatinath. Some travel across borders just to pay homage to Lord Shiva on this special day. Often being high after taking marijuana or chillum, some even roam around naked. Though appearance might be a little intimidating, they are friendly and sitting down for a little chat might not be such a bad idea. They give you blessings and also share their experiences and religious fables. That is a unique experience to gather in Nepal and also you might want to take pictures with Sadhus and they will happily strike a pose with you. However, make sure to carry some changes, in case they ask you some money for the pictures.
You can spectate many sadhus taking chillum. If you think you want to indulge in the aura, you can sit with Sadhus and take a puff for yourselves. Sadhus will happily share with you, but some might charge you for it as well.
As the night falls, there is a different taste in the environment, people lighting and gathering around bonfires, singing songs of Shiva, telling the stories of Shiva, dancing around the fire and crying out “Bom Bom Bhole”, which is an homage to The Lord and taking Marijuana. Mirgasthali and Guheshori which is about 500-700 m from the main temple is also one of famous attraction where you can see people worshipping and chanting mantras of Shiva.
You can also grab some exclusive taste of food in the ambiance, however, you can take something to eat by yourselves too. Try as much to gather unique experiences, make sure to take a good care of your Children, belongings and don't take much of expensive gadgets or ornaments. If you have any troubles finding the places or have any sort of inconvenience you can always contact the security officers who are patrolling the premises. People are friendly and welcoming, however, make sure to stay safe from monkeys around the temple.
We wish you all a happy Maha shivaratri 2018.
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