Kathmandu, March 1: The Mahashivaratri festival is being celebrated throughout the country today. The religious festival is dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva (Sanskrit: Auspicious One).
The scriptures describe Shiva as one of the main deities of Hinduism, worshipped as the paramount lord by the Saivite sects. He is the destroyer and the restorer, the great ascetic and the symbol of sensuality, the benevolent herdsman of souls and the wrathful avenger.
Shiva is revered as the Lord who is responsible for maintaining the cycle of existence, including its beginning and conclusion.
The Mahashivaratri festival falls on the day of Phagun Krishna Chaturdashi (the 14th day of the waning moon in the month of Phagun as per the lunar calendar) every year.
It is especially observed at midnight as it is believed that the 'Para Brahman' took the form of Shiva at midnight on this very day. 'Para Brahman' in Hindu philosophy is the 'supreme Brahman' that is beyond all descriptions and conceptualisations. It is described as the formless and that eternally pervades everything, everywhere in the universe and whatever is beyond.
It is believed that one attains happiness and peace in this world and bliss in the after-life world if one worships and pays homage and obeisance to Lord Shiva at midnight on the occasion of the Phagun Krishna Chaturdashi.
The Vedic Sanatana Hindus take holy baths in rivers, ponds and wells early in the morning, visit the Shiva temples and shrines, and offer prayers and worship with devotion on the occasion of the Mahashivaratri festival.
The Mahashivaratri is taken to be the 'national cultural festival' of Nepal. A large number of devotees visit the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu and temples and shrines are dedicated to Lord Mahadeva in other places of the country today to worship.
At the Pashupatinath Temple, four different types of ritualistic worships and prayers are offered at four specific periods tonight. In addition, the celebration with the offering of the Mahadeep, Akhandadeep, Lakshyabatti and Deepotsav rituals is observed. The classical songs and dances are performed at the Kailashkut and Kiranteshwor.
Devotees from across the country as well as many parts of India throng at the Pashupatinath Temple today on the occasion of the Mahashivaratri.
Meanwhile, Dr Milan Kumar Thapa, the member-secretary of the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT), has said that special arrangements have been made for the convenience of devotees visiting the Pashupati area on Mahashivaratri festival this year.
Accordingly, the four doors to the sanctum sanctorum of the Pashupatinath Temple were opened at 3 am today. More than a million people are expected to visit the Temple on Mahashivaratri this year for the worship and arrangements have been made accordingly, he added.
The Pashupatinath area, including the Temple complex, has been ornately decorated for the occasion with flower garlands and colourful electric lights.
Dr Thapa said arrangements have been made under which devotees can proceed for worship at the Temple queuing up from five locations.