Celebrated on the 13th night/14th day of the month of Maagha, Shivratri, also called Mahashivaratri, is a Hindu religious festival observed in reverence of the great Hindu god, Shiva. An all-day fast and an all-night-long vigil are observed on this day when Lord Shiva is said to have married his soulmate, Goddess Parvati. On this day, married women pray for the well-being of their husbands and children whereas unmarried women pray to be blessed with an ideal husband like Lord Shiva. Legends associated with this day say that worshipping Lord Shiva, even unknowingly, on this day would take a soul to salvation.
Worshiping the Shiva Lingam is an important ritual and all devotees visit Shiva temple with Bael leaves to perform the pooja. A bath in river Ganges or any other holy water source like the Shiva Sagartank adds to the virtuous deeds, a collective result of which leads to salvation. Devotees circumambulate the Lingam and perform Abhisheka with water, milk or/and honey with Bael leaves, followed by applying vermilion paste on the Shiva Lingam. Devotees also offer fruits to Lord Shiva and burn incense. Wearing a Rudraksha rosary and applying three horizontal stripes of holy ash on the forehead is considered austere as it is believed that these lines symbolize spiritual knowledge, purity and penance and also, the three eyes of Lord Shiva. Valued of great religious importance, Mahashivarathri is one of the most celebrated festivals in India.