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Maha Shivratri Festival

Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honour of the deity Shiva. The festival commemorates the wedding of Shiva and Parvati, and is also regarded to be the occasion that the deity performs his divine dance, called the Tandava.

A Shivaratri – "night of Shiva" – is observed on the night before the new moon during every month of the luni-solar Hindu calendar. So there are 12 shivratris each year. Once a year, in late winter and before the arrival of summer (February/March), this night is observed as "Maha Shivaratri" – "the great night of Shiva".

This day falls in the month of Phalguna as per the North Indian Hindu calendar and in Magha as per the South Indian Hindu calendar (see Amanta and Purnimanta systems). According to the South Indian calendar, Maha Shivaratri is observed on Chaturdashi Tithi during Krishna Paksha in the month of Magha, and in other parts of India, on the 13th or 14th night of Krishna Paksha in Phalguna of the Hindu calendar, the Gregorian date remaining the same.

It is a notable festival in Hinduism, marking a remembrance of "overcoming darkness and ignorance" in life and the world. It is observed by remembering Shiva and chanting prayers, fasting, and meditating on ethics and virtues such as honesty, non-injury to others, charity, forgiveness, and the discovery of Shiva. Ardent devotees stay awake throughout this night. Others visit one of the Shiva temples or go on a pilgrimage to the Jyotirlingams. The festival has been integral to Hinduism and its origin predates recorded history, but some western Indologists believe this festival originated in 5th century BCE.