In several parts of India, a sea of devotees throng temples of Lord Shiva on Friday (February 21) morning to offer prayers on the occasion of Maha Shivratri, a major event in Hinduism.
On this particular day, devotees worship Lord Shiva and observe a strict fast. Devotees visited Babulnath Temple in Mumbai, Shri Gauri Shankar Temple in Delhi's Chandni Chowk and 'Shivala Bagh Bhaiyan' temple in Amritsar to offer prayers.
The 25 feet tall 'shivling' at Brahma Kumaris in Kalaburagi, has been decorated with around 300 kg pigeon peas, local produce, on the occasion in Karnataka.
In Odisha, L Eswar Rao, an artist from Bhubaneswar's Jatni, has made a miniature model of a 'Shivling', on a pencil nib and on the stone inside a small bottle on the occasion of Maha Shivratri.
'The greatest night of Shiva'
Maha Shivratri, which literally translates to 'the greatest night of Shiva' is one of the most splendidly celebrated festivals across the country. It celebrates the grand marriage of the lord of destruction, Shiva -- with the goddess of fertility, love, and beauty -- Parvati, who is also known as Shakti (power).
According to Hindu mythology, on the night of the marriage, Lord Shiva had a very diverse group of acquaintances including Hindu gods, goddesses, animals, and demons escorting him to the house of the goddess.
The duo of Shiv and Shakti is considered to be the epitome of love, power, and togetherness. The festival marking the initiation of their bond - 'Maha Shivratri' - is celebrated with great fervour across India.
Shivratri festivities in Kashmir
Maha Shivratri is a three-day festival for the minority Kashmiri Pandit community, which started on February 19. Apart from two days of special prayers, the community celebrates the third day as the feasting day in which apart from relatives, the majority of Muslim community members also take part. This Shivratri, people in the Kashmir Valley are also praying for the return of peace and stability in the newly formed Union Territory.