Hundreds of devotees have gathered at various religious sites across India to mark Maha Shivratri on Thursday. While the COVID-19 pandemic has somewhat dampened the enthusiasm for widespread outdoor celebrations, countless individuals turned up at Haridwar's at Har Ki Pauri ghat for a holy dip or queued up for 'darshan' outside the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are several restrictions and guidelines put in place to ensure the safety of the devotees offering prayers on the holy day. And in some areas, such as Maharashtra, the rising caseload meant that the Nashik's Trimbakeshwar Temple, Mumbai's Babulnath Temple and others remained shut.
The Hindu festival is celebrated every year by people across the country on the on the 14th day of the dark fortnight of the Magha month, as per the Hindu lunar calendar. Maha Shivratri is considered auspicious for spiritual growth. The festival, also known as 'the great night of Shiva', celebrates the overcoming of darkness and ignorance and the grand marriage of Shiva and Parvati.
"Mahashivratri" is presently a trending topic on Twitter as countless individuals including political leaders take to the microblogging platform to greet others. "Greetings on the special occasion of Mahashivratri. Har Har Mahadev!" tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Best wishes to all countrymen on the auspicious occasion of Mahashivaratri. Celebrated as a sacred remembrance of the marriage of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva, this festival should be beneficial for the whole of humanity," tweeted President Kovind.
Several other political leaders and lawmakers have also taken to Twitter to extend their wishes. "Heartiest greetings to all countrymen on the auspicious occasion of Mahashivaratri," tweeted Home Minister Amit Shah in Hindi.
"Best wishes to all of you on the auspicious occasion of Mahashivaratri! May Bholenath provide you with happiness, prosperity and peace," wrote Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
"Har Har Mahadev" wrote Rahul Gandhi while wishing everyone on the occasion.