Mahashivratri refers to the worship of Lord Shiva, this auspicious day occuring on the 13th or 14th day of the dark period of Phalgun , which falls during the months of February - March.Literally, Mahashivratri means " the night of Lord Shiva " , and on this day a majority of the ceremonies performed to honour Lord Shiva are performed during the night time . In fact , it was on this very day that Lord Shiva got married to the Godess Parvati. Devoutees of Lord Shiva flock to the Shiva temples in the thousands to pay homage to their creator.
To celebrate this festival , several of the ardent devotees keep a fast , some to the extent that they do not even consume a single drop of water, and also stay awake the whole night . During the festival , the Shiv Linga is worshipped all night by washing it at a regular interval of every three hours with milk, curd, honey,rose water etc. , simultaenously chanting the Magic Mantra " om namoh shiva ". Also , an offering of leaves as well as fruit of the Bael tree are made to the Shiv Linga since these are considered to be very sacred and the belief is that the Godess Lakshmi, the creator of all wealth, resides within them.
On this auspicious day, Mahimna Stotra of Pushpadanta or Ravana's Shiva Tandava Stotra are sung by the devoutees with great passion , and people repeatedly chant the Panchakshara Mantra, Om Namah Shivaya. It is said that he who utters the various Names of Lord Shiva during the Shivaratri festival, with total devotion and concentration, is pardoned from all sins. He directly reaches the abode of Lord Shiva and lives there happily for all times to come , having been emancipated from the endless wheel of birth, death and rebirth. This is known as " "Moksha"!