Maha Shivaratri festival in Nepal

My first festival in Nepal - Maha Shivaratri

Nepal celebrates many festivals and one of the most important ones is Maha Shivaratri. It was the first festival I came across in Nepal and I was deeply impressed.

Maha Shivaratri is also called the great night of Shiva. The name says it all: During this day the Hindu god Shiva gets honoured. Shiva is the highest godly being in one of the Hindu traditions. Together with Brahma and Vishnu it forms the "Trimurti" of creator-keeper-destroyer. Shiva is the destroyer. The Lingam is the symbol with which Shiva get honoured. The Yoni is the symbol of his spouse Parvati. You will often see them together at temples.

One of the reasons I wanted to give something back to Nepal is the kindness of the people I met. Not just to me, whom they hardly knew, but also to their fellow countrymen , often a lot poorer than they are. During the festival Maha Shivaratri the day got started with donating to the homeless. We handed out home-cooked meals, but I also noticed that clothing and money was handed out. After the sharing, we visited a temple.

In the afternoon it was time for a party. All of us went up the mountain to Pumdikot, where a large tent was erected. At the entrance you could donate for future projects, like placing a pavement or building a wall. If I got it right, the person that donated most was honoured on a stage. In the tent there were many people, the entire village appeared to be there. Happiness everywhere, people dancing and singing, and food and drinks were being served.

After the party we went home, preparing for the last part of the festival. On our way back bamboo sticks were bought to make a fire later that night. We found a nice fire and placed our sticks there. What I had not thought of was that that was not the end of it. The burning sticks were pulled out of the fire and people were hitting the ground with it. That made a massive noise. Then there were servings of Dat, an alcoholic drink, and a flour ball which included cannabis. Not everyone consumed these. And that was the end of an eventful festival.

This year, 2022, Maha Shivaratri was celebrated on March 1st.