Maha Shivaratri: A prominent festival celebrated worldwide, especially in Nepal. Hindus gather around the Pashupati Nath temples in Kathmandu to celebrate this festival dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Historical Significance: Kathmandu has been celebrating this festival for over 15 centuries, honoring Shiva, one of the holiest deities in Hinduism.
- Date: Maha Shivaratri falls in late February or early March, attracting Hindus from India and Nepal to Kathmandu.
- Rituals: Devotees sing, smoke weed, and worship Shiva during the festival.
- Chillum Tradition: Many participants use chillums, echoing the ancient tradition of Shiva himself, who used similar smoking devices.
- Spiritual Significance: Maha Shivaratri holds religious importance, symbolizing the victory of light over darkness, with devotees engaging in prayers, fasting, yoga, and meditation.
Legends and Customs:
- Mythological Significance: Shiva saved the world from destruction, demanding reverence from devotees to prevent calamity.
- The Poison Episode: Lord Shiva consumed deadly poison during the churning of the ocean, turning his neck blue. This event is closely tied to the growth of marijuana plants, believed to have sprouted wherever the poison touched the earth.
- Bilva Leaves: Another legend involves a woodcutter offering Bilva leaves to Shiva, inadvertently seeking forgiveness and saving himself from past sins.
- Symbolism of Lord Shiva: Shiva, depicted as a dancer and a free spirit, represents the ability to learn from mistakes and move forward.
Theories Surrounding Cannabis Day
Shiva and Marijuana:
- Shiva is said to have revitalized himself by consuming marijuana leaves, making it a part of his preferred diet.
- He is often referred to as the “Ruler of Bhang” due to his association with the plant.
- A woodcutter, chased by a lion after killing many birds, climbed a Bilva tree to escape.
- To stay awake and avoid falling, the woodcutter cut the leaves of the Bilva tree and dropped them below.
- These leaves fell on a Shiva Linga located at the tree’s base.
- The woodcutter unintentionally offered the Bilva leaves to Shiva, demonstrating his devotion.
- Despite the woodcutter’s sins, including killing birds, his act of devotion saved him.
- Festival Observance: Devotees fast and worship Shiva, believing it brings happiness and prosperity.
- Lord Shiva’s Contradiction: Despite being a Vaishnava, a sect that abstains from marijuana, Lord Shiva’s portrayal as a figure who can consume poison without harm signifies his unique nature.
- Nataraj: Lord Shiva’s dancing form, Nataraj, symbolizes his ability to dance freely and gracefully, showcasing the importance of embracing life’s challenges.
In essence, Maha Shivaratri, intertwined with spiritual tales and customs, stands as a celebration of faith, tradition, and the eternal spirit of Lord Shiva.