New Delhi: The much-revered festival of Maha Shivratri is being marked this year on March 1. The day is basically a celebration of Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati’s marriage ceremony. Devotees throng temples in huge numbers and offer their prayers.
Also known as the ‘Great Night of Shiva’, Maha Shivratri is celebrated differently across the country. The festival is also celebrated with must gusto and fervour by the Indian diaspora abroad.
Maha Shivratri in Varanasi:
In Varanasi, however, it holds a greater significance. The city of Kashi is immersed in the Maha Shivratri festive feels, days in advance. During the festival of Shivratri, several temples in Benaras offer ‘bhang’ as Baba Vishwanath’s prasad to devotees.
‘Bhang’ is also offered to Lord Shiva. But during Maha Shivratri, shops keep a full stock and also instal machines to grind the ‘Bhang’ for all those who want to purchase it.
Measures are taken to keep it clean and Thandai – a famous drink (milk mixed with bhang) is also readily available across the city.
On Maha Shivratri, in Benaras, ‘bhang’ is available not just as thandai but also as sweets (burfi), ice-cream Kulfi, biscuits etc.
As per ancient Indian scriptures, ‘bhang’ is also known as Vijaya. It is believed that one can offer bhang, dhatura, tambul prasad to Lord Shiva. Therefore, in Benaras, devotees consume ‘bhang’ as a form of prasad from Bhole Naath.
Here’s wishing everyone a very Happy Maha Shivratri!