As per the Hindu calendar, Shivratri is celebrated on the new moon day in the month of Maagha. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the festival owes its origins to several versions, one of them being a celebration of Shiva and Parvati’s marriage to each other. The day is celebrated to venerate Lord Shiva, an important deity in Hindu culture.
Some other facts about the festival of Mahashivratri are as follows:
According to some, Shivratri is celebrated as the day when Shiva saved the world from the pot of poison that emerged from the ocean during Samudra Manthan. If legends are to be believed, Lord Shiva drank the poison and stored it in his throat–which made his throat turn blue (which is why he also came to be known as Neelkanth).
Another legend has it that after the Earth was faced with an imminent destruction, Goddess Parvati pledged with Lord Shiva to save the world. Pleased with her prayers, Lord Shiva agreed to save the world on the pretext that the people of the Earth would have to worship him with dedication and passion. From that day onwards, the night came to be known as Maha Shivratri and people began worshipping Shiva with a great enthusiasm.
Shivratri festivities differ in various parts of India. Where in Southern Karnataka children have the leverage to indulge in mischief and then ask for punishment (symbolic of Shiva punishing Brahma for lying), Kashmiri Brahmins celebrate Lord Shiva’s marriage to Parvati by starting the festivities 3-4 days prior to the main festival.
Out of the 12 Shivratris in the year, the Mahashivratri is considered to be the most auspicious one.