There are many legends and stories behind why Maha Shivratri is celebrated. One is that it is celebrated to revere Lord Shiv, who, during the Samudra Manthan, drank the poison churned and saved the world. Another is that it is significant because this is the day that Lord Shiv and Goddess Parvati got married. To mark the occasion of Maha Shivratri, temples across India and Nepal light up and devotees come together to chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ through the night. The Shiv Lingam is bathed in milk, honey and ghee and holy rituals are performed.

As the country celebrates this beautiful festival today, we bring to you 10 stunning pictures to mark the occasion:

1. A man, dressed as Lord Shiv, holds a lit candle in his mouth

Photo Credit: AFP

2. A statue of Lord Shiv’s cosmic dance

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3. Sudarsan Pattnaik’s sand sculpture at the Puri Beach in Odisha

4. A sadhu dresses up ahead of the holy festival

Photo Credit: AFP

5. The eight-faced Lord Shiv at Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh

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6. Devotees at the Pashupatinath Temple in Nepal offer prayers

Photo Credit: AFP

7. A decorated Shiv Lingam

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8. A young kid dressed as Lord Shiv takes part in the holy procession

9. A sadhu smears his face with coloured paste

Photo Credit: AFP

10. A sadhu adjusts his hair near the Pashupatinath Temple

Photo Credit: AFP

How are you celebrating the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivratri? Let us know in the comments section below.