The festival of Mahashivratri is celebrated annually on the 13th or 14th day of the luni-solar month of the Hindu calendar. This usually falls in the month of February or March every year which marks the arrival of the spring season. This festival is celebrated on a full-moon day or “Pournami” and lasts an entire night where the devotees fast, pray, meditate and or visit the temples of Lord Shiva.
The main philosophy or significance of this festival is overcoming the darkness and ignorance in one’s life and stepping into the path of light. There are many legends associated with the festival of Mahashivratri.
One version of the legend is that a tribal man ventured into a dark forest to collect firewood. Due to the fall of the night and increasing howling of animals, he climbed to a nearby wood apple tree and started plucking one leaf after the other to keep himself awake throughout the night and to his surprise, he found that the leaves he plucked had fallen on to a shiva linga which was present just below the tree branches. Being moved by his devotion, Lord Shiva blessed the tribal man with his presence.
Although there are many versions of this story and legends, there is no particular origin found for this festival of Mahashivratri. Since Lord Shiva also known as Lord Nataraja (god of dance) in many parts of India, several dance festivals are conducted throughout India.
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