Shivratri, also known as “The great night of Lord Shiva”, is the most important festival for the millions of disciples of Lord Shiva. Celebrated on a moonless February night, Shivaratri falls on the 13th or the 14th night of the new moon during Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) in the Hindu month of Phalgun (corresponds to the period between the months of February to March).
According to Hindu mythology, during the Churning of the Ocean of Milk known as “Samudra Manthan”, a very lethal and toxic poison, also known as the “Halahal”, had emerged from the ocean. It is believed that this poison was so toxic that even thinking about it could have caused a state of unconsciousness! It is then believed that Lord Shiva immediately arrived at the sight, took the poison from the ocean and in an act to protect the universe, drank the poison. But before swallowing it, Goddess Parvati pressed her hands on Lord Shiva’s throat. The poison was held at the base of Shiva’s throat which caused his entire throat to turn blue in colour. Since then, Lord Shiva came to be known as “Nilkantha”, the blue-throated one. Every year, Shivratri celebrates this event by which Lord Shiva saved the world.
To worship Lord Shiva on Shivaratri is deemed to be extremely auspicious and a devotee who performs sincere worship of Lord Shiva on a Shivratri is to be absolved of sins and attains moksha (liberation).