Maha Shivratri FestivalMaha Shivaratri is celebrated every year in reverence of Lord Shiva. The day Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati. The Maha Shivaratri Festival, also popularly known as 'Shivaratri' (spelt as Sivaratri, Shivaratri, Sivarathri, and Shivarathri) or 'Great Night of Lord Shiva’ marks the wedding of Shiva and Shakti.
The festival is celebrated by offerings of Bael leaves to Lord Shiva, all-day fasting and an all-night jagaran (worshipping). Devotees chant "Om Namah Shivaya", the sacred mantra of Lord Shiva. Penances are performed in order to gain boons in the practice of Yoga and meditation, in order to reach life's highest good. On this day, the planetary positions in the Northern hemisphere act as potent catalysts to help a person raise his or her spiritual energy more effectively. The benefits of powerful ancient Sanskrit mantras dedicated to Lord Shiva, increase greatly on this night.
On this auspicious occasion of Maha Shivaratri, very early morning, Lord Shiva temples are flocked by devotees from all walks of life, who come to perform the traditional Shivalinga worship (puja) and hence hope for highest good from the God. Devotees bathe at sunrise, preferably in the Ganga, or any other Holy water source. This is a ritual of purification, which is an important part of the festivals. Wearing clean clothing after the Holy bath, worshippers carry/ offer water in the temple to bathe the Shivalinga. The temples reverberate with the sound of bells and shouts of "Shankerji ki Jai" meaning 'Hail Shiva'. Some devotees also offer uncooked milk to bathe the Shivalinga.