This great night of Lord Shiva is one of the most celebrated Hindu festivals in India. The day is associated with classic stories of Lord Shiva and is marked as a remembrance of \"overcoming darkness and ignorance\" in life and the world. The festival is celebrated by remembering Shiva and chanting prayers, fasting, doing Yoga and meditating on ethics and virtues such as self-restraint, honesty, no injury to others, forgiveness and the discovery of Shiva. The passionate devotees keep strict vigil all night. Others visit one of the Shiva temples or go on pilgrimage to Jyotirlingams. This year Mahashivratri will be celebrated on 24th February.
The sacred festival that falls on the 13th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Phalgun pleases Lord Shiva the most. It is believed that worship of Lord Shiva with devotion and sincerity absolves a devotee of past sins. The devotee reaches the residence of Lord Shiva and lives there happily. He is also released from the cycle of birth and death and attains Moksha or salvation.
· You need to wake up early and sanctify yourself in the holy water.
· Wear clean clothes and apply vibhuthi (sacred ash) on the forehead making a special mark of three horizontal stripes (tripundra). The three stripes symbolise spiritual knowledge, purity and penance.
· You should wear a Rudraksha Mala (bead made with seeds of the Rudraksha tree), which is of great significance to Lord Shankar.
· Abstain from food and drink for the whole day and night, a ritual that is believed to give great merit to the worshipper.
· Offer these important items Bael leaves, Vermilion paste (Sindoor), Food, Incense (Dhoop), Lamp (Diya), Betel leaves (Paan patta) on the Shiva Lingam.
· The puja should be done four times during the night.
According to few contradictory opinion devotees should break the fast only when Chaturdashi Tithi gets over. But it is believed that breaking the fast should be done within Chaturdashi Tithi.
· On the day of Maha Shivaratri, childless couples should prepare 11 Shiva-Linga by the wheat flour and thereafter they should do the water consecration of each Shiva-Linga with “Shiva Mahimna Strota”. The couple should take that water as prasadam. This procedure should be done till 21 or 41 days by starting on Maha Shivaratri.
· For the protection of pregnancy and to conceive the child, wife can hold the Garbha Gauri Rudraksha. This should be held on the day of Mahashivaratri or any auspicious Monday.
· If you are suffering from bad health since long time, you should visit the Lord Shiva’s temple on the day of Maha-Shivaratri and offer the milk mixed water and black sesame seeds onto the Lingam while chanting “Om Joom Saha” 108 times. For consecration, do not use coppe