Shivaratri is the birthday of Lord Shiva and celebrated on the 6th night of the dark Phalgun (Feb or March) every year. Mahashivaratri marks the night when Lord Shiva performed the ‘Tandava’. It is also believed that on this day Lord Shiva was married to Parvati Ma.
The festival of Shivratri is celebrated throughout the state of Gujarat and is also known by the name of “Mahashivratri” – the celebrations go with divinity, fasting and offering milk and bili leaves to Lord Shiva.
In India, there are about 30 Million Linga in temples. Among the most worshipped Linga is the Ice formed Linga at Amarnath and in Gujarat, at Somnath Temple. It is believed that Shiva sleeps in all the Lingas in Chaturmasya and if one worship during this time, it is very auspicious. Going for Pilgrimage to all 12 Jyotirlinga (golden linga) means one washes away the sins of last seven births and also reciting the mantras purifies the soul and can attain peacefulness.
Somnath Temple Jyotirlinga is situated at Somnath Patan (the south coast of Saurashtra), near Veraval in (Prabhas Kshetra) Kathaiwad district in Gujarat. Somnath is considered to be the first of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva and is a revered pilgrimage center in India. It is mentioned in the Rig Veda. Somnath means “The Protector of Moon God”. The Somnath Temple is known as ‘the Shrine Eternal’, as the temple has been destroyed six times, but was rebuilt on each occasion.
The Somnath temple is a testimony to an amazing mix of art and science and obvious history – Dramatic in build, the splendid architecture, intricate stone carvings and breath-taking sculptures in the Somnath temple, reflect the great artistic skill of the ‘Sompuras’, Gujarat’s master masons.
During Shivratri, Somnath Temple festival is the tourist attraction and a place for pilgrimage as scores of people of all faith visit the temple to worship Lord Shiva. A major festival is held at Somnath during Mahashivratri which coincide with the Kutchh Desert festival held at the same time. Somnath also celebrates a large fair on the day of the full moon of Kartik Purnima in November/December..
Also in Gujarat, Bhavnath Festival is celebrated during Mahashivratri. Situated at the foot of Mount Girnar in Junagadh, the Shiv Temple ‘Vastrapata Kshetra’ celebrates the vitality of the Shiva cult. A five day festival, on this day prayers are offered to the Lord Shiv, after the devotees take a dip in the holy ‘mrig Kunda.’ Over thousand of pilgrims come to this holy shrine. Prior to the start of Mahapuja, a huge procession gets started. This procession is headed by the ‘Naga Bavas’ who ride on elephant back with a flag in their hands followed by cultural programs. Folk songs and folk dance forms a part of the tourist attractions. Bhavai, a typical Gujarati folk dance, folk songs and folk dances attracts a large audience to gather in this place during the Bhavnath Festival of Gujarat.