Mahashivratri is being celebrated across the country today, with people queuing outside temples to worship Lord Shiva, known as the "destroyer of evil". Mahashivratri 2019 is celebrated on March 4 and will be extended till March 5, as celebrations will continue till late at night and many others will also hold a fast for the entire day. However, since the festival is celebrated according to the lunar calendar, the dates vary every year. According to the Hindu almanac, Mahashivratri is celebrated on the 13th night and the 14th day of the Phalguna month, which is somewhere between February and March. Long queues of devotees were seen at different temples of Lord Shiva since the break of dawn, reported news agency ANI.
The festival is also known as "the great night of Shiva" and it involves "overcoming darkness and ignorance. Mahashivratri was the day when Shiva drank poisonous negativity to protect the world. Devotees of Lord Shiva, after completing their morning rituals, observe a day-long fast for Maha Shivratri and only eat food the next day. A number of activities are also carried out by them on this day.
They practice yoga and meditation apart from worshipping Lord Shiva on Mahashivratri. Many devotees also stay up all night in order to observe what is known as 'jaagran'.
Apart from activities like yoga and meditation, on Mahashivratri, there is also a pilgrimage to Jyotirlingams. People go to the Jyotirlingams to pray and pay their respect.
The major Jyotirlinga Shiva temples of India are located in Varanasi and Somnath. Many Shiva devotees also throng to temples located all over Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana as well during Maha Shivratri.
Today being the last day of the Kumbha Mela in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj, crores of devotees attending the Kumbha Mela will also celebrate Mahashivratri 2019.
"Maha Shivratri symbolises the last holy bath of the Kalpvasis and is directly related to Lord Shiva. As per the mythology, this day is awaited in the heavens as well," Gunjan Varshney, president of Ram Naam Bank situated at Civil Lines in Prayagraj, told news agency Press Trust of India.
The Kumbha Mela will conclude on a very rare occasion, the Maha Shivratri 2019, according to Mr Varshney. The Rudrabhishek of shivling will also be done on the Mahashivratri 2019.
There will also be six bathing dates for the Kumbha Mela on the occasion of Mahashivratri 2019.
"Of these, shahi snaans were held on occasions of Makar Sankranti (January 15), Mauni Amawasya (February 4) and Basant Panchami (February 10).
"Apart from this, parv snaans have been held on the occasion of Paush Poornima (January 21) and Maghi Poornima (February 19)," Mr Varshney said.