Shivaratri is celebrated on the 6th night of the dark Phalgun (Feb or March) every year. Shivaratri literally means the great night of Shiva or the night of Shiva. On the auspicious day, devotees observe fast and keep vigil all night. Mahashivaratri marks the night when Lord Shiva performed the ‘Tandava’. It is also believed that on this day Lord Shiva was married to Ma Parvati.
Mahashivartri is one of the most popular festivals in Rajasthan. This festival bears further significance as it is devoted to Lord Shiva who is one of the three main gods of Hindu Mythology.
Mahashivaratri which will fall on March 10, 2013 is celebrated with a lot of fanfare in Rajasthan. A large number of devotees follow strict fast on the day. They also believe that an earnest and honest celebration of the festival will give them a respite from all their sins. This festival is mostly celebrated by women of the Hindu community. After fasting for the whole day, they devotedly pray to the God. Married women perform these rituals for the well being of their husbands. Unmarried girls perform these rituals to get the best husband like Lord Shiva.
On this day, Lord Shiva is bathed in milk and honey. They also offer Bel leaves and flowers (which are also called Bengal quince or wood apple) while chanting ‘Om Namay Shivay’. Some of the Lord Shiva temples also observe Jaagaran (people stay up the entire night to chant) during Mahashivaratri. The food offered to the god is later distributed to the devotees as ‘Prasad’ (sacred eatable as it has been offered to God).