Hindus all over the world are celebrating Maha Shivratri or 'The Great Night of Shiva' today i.e, Friday, February 21 in honour of Lord Shiva.
Most Shivbhakts observe fast on the day, while some devotees visit the Ganges to take a dip in the holy river.
The festival is considered extremely auspicious for women. They pray for the long lives of their husband and children. Unmarried women pray for an ideal husband.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and other sent their wishes on the auspicious occasion.
PM Modi tweeted, "Happy Mahashivratri to all of you. Hope the blessings of Baba Bholenath brings happiness, peace, prosperity and good fortune in the lives of all the countrymen. Om Namah Shivay!"
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, "Hearty greetings to all the countrymen on the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivaratri."
President Ram Nath Kovind tweeted, "Greetings and good wishes to all fellow citizens on Mahashivaratri. May the blessings of Lord Shiva bring peace, happiness and prosperity to everyone's life."
Other on the micro-blogging also sent their wishes on Maha Shivratri. Here are a few tweets:
There are many legends of the origin and history of Maha Shivratri. Some say that it is the night when Shiva and Parvati got married, while according to another legend, it is celebrated on the night that Shiva took the form of 'Natraj' and performed the tandava dance.
Some believe that it was the day when Lord Shiva gulped the Halahala, the deadly poison produced during Samudra Manthan, which was capable of destroying the entire world. He held it in his throat due to which his throat turned blue. Hence, he is also called Neelakantha (the blue-throated one).