Celebrated annually on Chaturdashi Tithi of the Krishna Paksha, month of Phalgun (14th day of the lunar phase in February or March).
Shiva ratri literally means Shiva's night. It is celebrated on the darkest night of the Moon. This night also indicates the shift of seasons- from winter to spirng. Shiva married parvati on this night.
Vrata, A strict fast is observed preferably one where you do not even drink water. Devottes remain awake all night chanting OmNamah Shivaya, the sacred panchaakshari mantra for Shiva. The Shiva Lingam is worshipped all night by washing it every three hours with milk, curd, honey, rose water, etc. Offerings of bael leaves are made to the Lingam. Bael leaves are very sacred as, it is said, Lakshmi resides in them.
Lord Shiva is Light which is burning with the fire of austerity. He is best propitiated with cool bathing known as Abhishekham. The devottes ask him to burn away their sins and give them wisdom.
The fast for Mahashivaratri is considered a perfect fast.
It is also a good day for you to chant OM NAMAH SHIVAYA at least 108 times
At the Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh, the Shivaratri festival is celebrated in the following manner.
- All spiritual aspirants fast the whole day, many of them without taking even a single drop of water.
- A grand havan is performed for the peace and welfare of all.
- The whole day is spent in doing the Japa of Om Namah Shivaya and in meditation upon the Lord.
- At night all assemble in the temple and chant Om Namah Shivaya the whole night.
- During the four quarters of the night the Shiva Lingam is worshipped with intense devotion.
- Sannyas Diksha is also given on this day to sincere seekers on the path.