In India, Maha Shivaratri is a traditional day of worship dedicated to Lord Shiva, or God, literally meaning “the Great Night of Shiva.”
As Shiva is the “Great Guru of the Yogis,” especially in the Kashmiri Shaivist tradition that is such an important part of the teachings in the Agama system, on Koh Phangan we celebrate this event with a gathering of the entire community featuring an all-night vigil, a ritual of homage to Shiva, meditations, and bhajans.
In the Tantric tradition, Shiva is the name given both to the inexpressible consciousness, the transcendent, as well as to the personal manifestation of the divine in its masculine aspect.
The date changes year by year, always corresponding to the new moon and falling sometime in late winter or early spring and falls on Saturday February 25th this year. For weeks beforehand, dedicated Shaktis (the name for the feminine aspect of the divine as well as the title given to women in a Tantric tradition) within the school prepare for the ritual by purifying themselves and the collective energy of the community with certain Yogic practices. On the eve of the vigil they gather, en masse, wearing red, to hold the space for the rest of the community. In addition, eight Viras (meaning heroes in Sanskrit – the title given to men in the Tantric tradition) from the community are chosen to represent the aspects of Shiva, performing 21 days of preparations and then dressing the part in costume to fully channel specific manifestations of Shiva (for example, Shiva Nataraja, “the Cosmic Dancer,” or Dakshinamurti, the “Supreme Guru of Yoga” ). Swami Vivekananda Saraswati leads the ritual, supported by Ananda Maha, Muktananda, and Agama’s most advanced Yogis and Yoginis.
Although the gathering continues until dawn, all are invited to join at any point and leave when necessary. All participants are asked to wear white and arrive in silence, with respect for the space and those nearby them in the hall. And of course, it’s said that the real magic of the evening happens late into the night, when only the most dedicated ones with the strongest aspiration remain.
Hundreds of thousands of people gather in India on this special day and online to take part, see more info HERE
Read more here: http://www.mahashivratri.org