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Maha Shiva Ratri: The night of Lord Shiva

Maha Shiva Ratri

Maha Shiva Ratri is a Hindu religious festival, quite unlike Thiruvonam, which is a festival for all. Falling in the Malayalam month of Kumbham, sometime around February-March each year, Maha Shiva Ratri or the Night of Lord Shiva, commemorates the day on which the Father of the Gods saved the world by drinking the deadly Kaalakoodum poison.

Fasting and worship marks the day for the worship of Shiva. Devotees visit the numerous Shiva Temples - both big and small - around the state and smear their bodies with holy ash while chanting prayers to the Lord. The prayers go on all through the night and early next morning, after a purifying bath, prayers are offered once again to Shiva.

The most famous of the Maha Shiva Ratri celebrations are held in Aluva, on the banks of the Periyar River. An idol of the Lord is created on the sandy bank of the river for the thousands of pilgrims, who visit it to offer their prayers. People from all walks of life> assemble for the great fair that is held. An exhibition and sale of goods is on during the celebrations. Cultural shows and dances are staged through the night to keep the pilgrims awake. Many devotees offer sacrifices to their ancestors in the morning after the holy night.