Maha Shivratri is a Hindu festival of India celebrated annually in reverence of the God Shiva.It is also celebrated in Nepal. While most Hindu festivals are celebrated during the day, Shivaratri is celebrated during the night by keeping a "jaagaran" - a night-long vigil as it’s believed that Lord Shiva saved the universe from darkness and ignorance. This day is believed to be the day that Shiva was married to the Goddess Parvati.
The Maha Shivaratri festival, also popularly known as 'Shivaratri'marks the convergence of Shiva and Shakti. Maha Shivaratri is celebrated on the Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi of Bikram sambat calender on the month of Falgun as per Amavasya.The festival is principally celebrated by offerings of Bael(Vilvam) leaves to Shiva, all-day fasting and an all-night-vigil (Jagran). All through the day, devotees chant “Om Namah Shivaya", the sacred Mantra of Shiva. Penances are performed in order to gain boons in the practice of Yoga and meditation, in order to reach life's highest good steadily and swiftly. On this day, the planetary positions in the Northern hemisphere act as potent catalysts to help a person raise his or her spiritual energy more easily. The benefits of powerful ancient Sanskrit mantras such as Maha mrityunjaya Mantra increase greatly on this night. "Maha Shivaratri" is associatedwith Shiva saving the Universe by drinking poison (visham) that came out of the samudra manthan.It is also associated with the marriage of Shiva and Shakti, and the night he performed the Taandava, the cosmic dance.