Rituals of Mahashivaratri
The devotees take an early morning bath and swarm the nearby Shiva temple in order to seek blessings from Lord Shiva and make offerings to the deity.
The traditional Shiva-Linga puja is performed where the Shiva Linga is given a solemn bath with milk, rose water, curd, ghee, honey and sandalwood paste. The puja is carried out once in every three hours!
People also make offerings of milk, gangaajal (holy water), incense sticks, bel leaves, fruits and flowers. The devotees strictly perform all the rituals of Maha Shivratri as it is considered to be an auspicious day to worship Lord Shiva, and it is believed that they will be cleared of their past sins.
Celebrations of Maha Shivaratri are carried out with married women praying for the wellbeing and long life of their husbands. Also, since Shiva is believed to be an ideal husband, unmarried women pray for a husband like Him.
Keertans and jaagrans (nightlong vigil) are a major highlight which feature chanting, reading of the verses, and singing the praises of Lord Shiva. Chanting of the mantra ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ is very prominent on this day.
One is supposed to remain awake all through the night, on Mahashivratri and keep a night long vigil. Fasting is firmly observed throughout the day and the devotees break their fast early next morning by eating the prasad that was offered to the idol.