Maha Shivaratri is a festival celebrating Lord Shiva and literally translates as “The Great Night of Shiva.” Worship services occur all day however the main pujas occur either once in the evening or four times that span the entire night. The festival signifies several events important to devotees. Shivaratri commemorates the wedding night of Lord Shiva to his consort Parvati. Thus it is a festival particularly marked by married couples. During this night Lord Shiva as Nataraja, the Lord of the Dance, first performed the Dance of Bliss – the “Anandatandava”. This dance portrays the cyclical nature of the universe reflected by the cyclical nature of daily life as experienced by individual souls. The Linga Purana also indicates that on this day Shiva took the form of the Lingam, a column of light with no beginning and no end to signify His infinite existence. Likely referring to the Shivalingam, Swami Chinmayananda connected Shivaratri to “moments of pure infinite subjective experience” and the worship of Shiva on this day as a means towards achieving a state of transcended perception.
As an ode to the joy of dancing, here is a video on Indian dance forms by the editors of Hinduism Today featuring “Bho Shambho Shiva Shambho”