Date: 07 Mar 2016
Reason: To remember the marriage of Lord Shiva.
In Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva is considered to be the god of destruction.
It is also accepted that creation and destruction are two sides of natural phenomena by which the nature maintains a fine balance which helps all living as well as non-living organisms in nature to grow and stay healthy.
Maha Shiva-ratri (meaning – the night of mighty Shiva) is celebrated by Hindus to remember the marriage of Lord Shiva with Parvati, the daughter of Himalayas.
In most parts of India, and particularly in Northern part, shiv-bhakts observe fasts, clean up shiv-idols and temples with water from river Ganges (one of the big rivers in North India which is revered for it’s water qualities), and offer prayers to Shiva.
Another practice which has gained prominence is that of ‘Kanwarias’. If you happen to be in anywhere near river Ganges, you will find swarming mass of people wearing red/maroon colored garments walking barefoot, carrying water from Ganges to their native places just prior to Shiva-ratri. Their devotion, enthusiasm, and determination is towards the completion of task is praiseworthy.
This whole celebration is male dominated and females are advised to stay away from shiv-bhakts. Instances of shiv-bhakts misbehaving under influence of bhang/gaanja (extracted from canabbis) is not uncommon.
In essence, it is a mark of respect to all natural forces which govern our everyday life. With the growing concern over global warming and related natural changes taking place, I think it is worth-while to pay a little heed to preserving our natural resources.