Maha Shivaratri - A Hindu festival to honour the god Shiva

Sri Lanka is indeed a wondrous country lying in the tropics. It is a country with diversity in terms of culture, natural heritage and so on. The country where people of various religious and cultural backgrounds are living in harmony, has at least one cultural festival in each and every month of the year.
The month of March is yet another month that has a more vital significance when it comes to cultural happenings in Sri Lanka. Maha Shivaratri is one such celebration happening across the country.
The term “Maha-shivaratri” refers to Great Night of the god Shiva when Shiva performs the heavenly dance of creation, preservation and destruction. It is basically a Hindu religious festival and essentially the most important sectarian festival of the year for devotees of the Hindu god Shiva in honour of whom it is celebrated annually.
On the 13th night/14th day in every luni-solar month of the Hindu calendar, there is a Shivaratri, but once a year in late winter (February/March, or Phalguna) and before the arrival of Summer, it marks Maha-Shivaratri, the great night of Shiva.
This time, Maha-shivaratri is celebrated on Thursday, the 11th of March. This festival is solemn and marks a remembrance of "overcoming darkness and ignorance" in life and the world. It is observed by remembering Shiva and jaagaran all-night vigil where a special worship of “lingam” (symbol of Shiva) is performed and chanting prayers, fasting, and meditating on ethics and virtues such as honesty, non-injury to others, charity, forgiveness, and the discovery of Shiva while offering fruits, leaves, sweets and milk to the god Shiva. The pious devotees keep awake all night.
Maha Shivaratri is considered the day when adiyogi or the first guru awakened his consciousness at the material level of existence. According to Tantra, at this stage of consciousness, no objective experience takes place and the mind is transcended. The meditator transcends time, space and causation. It is regarded as the brightest night of the soul, when the yogi attains the state of Shoonya or Nirvana, the stage succeeding samadhi or illumination.
Maha-shivaratri is a significant event of Sri Lanka’s annual events calendar as it reflects the country’s cultural diversity and religiously it teaches us to how to live a better life with good virtues.

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