Festival of Shiva
Shiva, the moon God of the mountains, is honored annually on this date. Folklore and myth portray Shiva with the moon in his hair, through which flows the River Ganges. As it poured down from the heavens, Shiva protected the earth against the mighty Goddess Ganga, who could have flooded all of India. Shiva forced her to stream through his matted hair, thus slowing her force until the waters reached the earth. This is why there are so many small streams converging in the lower Himalayas to form one great divine river, the Ganges. It is still believed that her power is so strong that all people, the living as well as the dead, are purified by her holy waters.
During the festival of Shiva, worshipers gather in his temple to celebrate his celestial dance of creation. The sacred rites are followed by an oil lamp vigil known as the Shibaratri (Shiva’s night) that culminates with a great feast.