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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


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
6. Devotees at the Pashupatinath Temple in Nepal offer prayers

Photo Credit: AFP

7. A decorated Shiv Lingam

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Happy Maha Shivaratri Divine Souls ~ Love, Light , Peace and Many Blessings to all ❤️ Its advised to not keep a ‘Shivalingam’ in a place where it is not regularly worshipped with proper rituals. As showing disrespect to Shiva may anger the lord. Shiva is very innocent and may get pleased in no time. But, his anger too is well-renowned. Shiva lives a simple life with bare necessities, and things he cherishes the most are Dhatura , Bel leaves, bhang, ice-cold milk, sandalwood paste, and bhasma. However, as per Shiva Maha Purana, devotee must never worship Shivalingam with the following offerings. Ketaki flowers ~~ One day, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma ensued in a battled to prove their supremacy among the ‘Divine Trinity’, and just when they were about to use the deadly weapons against each other, Lord Shiva appeared in the form of Jyotirlinga. He ordered them to find the origin and end of him. Lord Vishnu headed for the end, but failed to find it, and while Lord Brahma was going up he asked the flower of Ketaki to lie along with him. Upon their respective returns, Lord Vishnu accepted his defeat; Lord Brahma lied that he found the origin and Ketaki flower sided him. Angered by their lie, Lord Shiva cut of one of Lord Brahma’s head and diminished him from ever being worshipped as a Lord. He then turned to Ketaki flower and cursed it to never be used in worshipping his symbol, Shivlinga. Tulsi ~~ According to legends in Shiva Maha Purana , an Asura named Jalandhar was killed and burned to ashes by Lord Shiva. Jalandhar was blessed with a boon (that depended on his wife’s chastity) to remain undefeated by gods. So, Lord Vishnu had to breach Jalandhar’s wife Tulsi’s chastity. Upset over her husband’s death and angered by this betrayal, Tulsi banished Lord Shiva from being worshipped by her divine leaves. ✨🌿🌼🍂🌷✨

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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.