Maha Shivaratri falls on the 13th and 14th night of the new moon of the Krishna Paksha of the Hindu month of Phalgun. This festival is principally celebrated to worship Lord Shiva.
The rituals of worshipping Lord Shiva follow the different steps as given below:
- Tripundra is a stripe applied to the forehead of the worshippers of Lord Shiva. This is considered to be very holy. Tripundra stripes symbolize spiritual knowledge, purity and penance which means spiritual practice of Yoga. It also represents the three eyes of Lord Shiva.
- earing prayer beads made of the rudraksha seed of the rudraksha tree is considered to be ideal while worshipping lord Shiva.
- The rudraksha seeds are said to have sprung from the tears of Lord Shiva. A rudraksha seed is of mahogany or black color. It sometimes has traces of sacred sandalwood powder, turmeric, kumkum, or holy ash if the prayer beads are used in worship ceremonies or embrocated.
- On Maha Shivaratri, only cold water and bael leaves are offered to the Siva Linga. Other traditional offerings, such as bathing it in milk and Panchamruta which is a mixture of milk, curds, ghee, sugar and honey are the symbols of sustenance.
- Sometimes this panchamruta is anointed with vermilion or kumkum or white consecrated rice called Akshata. Symbols of fertility or creation are done on this day, when Lord Shiva is worshipped as the deity of dissolution.
According to the Hindu mythology Maha Shivaratri is the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. On this day Shiva performed the Tandava Nritya which is the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.
Thus devotees specially women fast for the whole day and worship Lord Shiva during the evening at the Shiva temple.