Maha Shivaratri, a holy Hindu festival, will be celebrated on Feb. 20 and be marked across the world. The festival is meant to honour Lord Shiva, a Hindu God and one of the Trinity of the Creator, the Destroyer and the Preserver, who rule Hindu mythology.
Shivaratri falls on a moonless February night, when Hindus offer special prayer to the Lord of Destruction. As the legend goes, Shivaratri is the night Lord Shiva is said to have performed the dance of primal creation, preservation and destruction.
Another popular legend is that Lord Shiva turned himself in the form of a Linga for the first time. Since then, devotees celebrate it as the grand night of Shiva.
During this festival, devotees observe day and night fasts, chant mantras and worship Lord Shiva to appease him. Some devotees smear their bodies in ashes and pray to their lord.
Shivaratri is considered auspicious especially for women, as they pray for the well-being of their husband and children. Unmarried women pray to the lord, asking for a husband like him.
One of the highlights of this festival is that devotees and non-devotees are allowed to smoke intoxicating substances such as marijuana, as it is the only day when marijuana is legal.
Many people take these intoxicants as they believe that Lord Shiva himself is fond of it.