Shivratri is celebrated on the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of Phalguna (February- March), and is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva, one of the principal Hindu deities. On this day the devotees of Shiva observe fast. Maha Shivratri is the night when he is said to have performed the Tandava Nritya or the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction. The festival is observed for one day and one night only. Maha Shivratri is universally observed by all pious Hindus with fasting, singing of bhajans, recital of Sanskrit shlokas, offering of prayers, flowers, fruits and food that is specially prepared in honor of the deity and his divine consort, goddess Parvati.


Devotees get up early and take a ritual bath, preferably in the holy waters of river Ganga to perform the Shivratri puja.

This is followed by worship to Sun God, Vishnu and Shiva in harmony with the purification rite observed on all-important Hindu festivals.

Devotees then attire themselves in fresh new clothes and pay a visit to the nearest Shiva temple.

Many devotees even observe fast on this day. Some do not consume even a drop of water.

Milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar and water (panchamrit) is offered to the Shivlinga. A vermilion paste is applied on the Linga as it represents virtue. These six items form an indispensable part of Shivaratri

Following this, Bel Patra leaves, is kept on top of the Shivalinga. Ber or jujube fruit is also offered to Lord Shiva, as it is symbolic of longevity and gratification of desires. Some devotees also offer the auspicious betel leaves to Lord Shiva marking satisfaction with worldly pleasures.

Garlanding of Linga with flowers and garlands is also a part of the ritual Shivaratri Puja. Devotees also burn incense sticks as is said to yield wealth. Many also light diyas to symbolize attainment of knowledge. It is said that by offering water, hugging the Linga, lighting the diya and incense and ringing the temple bells, devotees call into focus all their senses, making them acutely aware of themselves and the universe to which they belong.

This ritual worship of Lord Shiva continues through the day and night of Shivaratri. Devotees stay awake and spent the night in Shiva temples by chanting 'Om Namah Shivaya' and singing hymns and verses in praise of Lord Shankar. Devotees observing fast on Shivaratri break it only the next morning by taking prasad offered to Lord Shiva.


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