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       Shivarathri
This is an important day for the devotees of Shiva, who stay awake throughout the night, praying to him. In all major centers of Shiva worship, Shivratri, also called Maha Shivratri, is a grand occasion.
From the very early morning, Shiva temples are filled with devotees, mostly women, who come to perform the traditional worship of the Shivalinga.
All through the day, devotees abstain from eating food and break their fast only the next morning, after the nightlong
Hanuman
worship. The day is considered especially auspicious for women. Married women pray for the well being of their husbands and sons, while unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva, who is considered the ideal husband.
Hymns in praise of Lord Shiva are sung with great fervor and devotion. People repeat the Panchakshara Mantra, Om Namah Shivaya. It is believed that one who utters the name of Shiva during Shivratri with proper devotion is freed from all sins. He reaches the abode of Shiva and lives happily there. He is liberated from the cycle of birth and death. Many pilgrims flock to the places where there are Shiva temples.
Shiva being an ascetic god, Maha Shivratri is very popular with ascetics. Thandai, a drink made with cannabis, almonds, and milk, is essentially drunk by the devout. This is so because cannabis is said to have been very dear to Shiva. The Puranas contain many stories and legends describing the origin of this festival. According to one, during the Samudra Manthan, a pot of poison emerged from the ocean. This terrified the gods and demons as the poison was capable of destroying the entire world, and they ran to Shiva for help. To protect the world from its evil effects, Shiva drank the deadly poison but held it in his throat instead of swallowing it. Because of it, his throat turned blue, and he was given the name Nilkantha, the blue-throated one. Shivratri is the celebration of this event by which Shiva saved the world.
About The Lord

Shiva - the word meaning auspicious - is one of the Hindu Trinity, comprising of Lord Brahma, the creator, Lord Vishnu, the preserver and Lord Shiva or Mahesh, the Destroyer and Re-Producer of life. Shiva is known by many names like "Shankar", "Mahesh", "Bholenath", "Neelakanth", "Shambhu Kailasheshwar", "Umanath", "Nataraj" and others.

For few people, Shiva is "Paramatman", "Brahman", the Absolute, but many more prefer to see Shiva as a personal

Hanuman
God given to compassion for his worshippers, and the dispenser of both spiritual and material blessings. Related to the Absolute concept is Shiva as "Yoganath" meaning the Lord of Yoga, wherein he becomes teacher, path and goal. As such he is the "Adi Guru" or the Highest Guru of 'Sannyasins' who have renounced the world to attain the Absolute.
He is the most sought-after deity amongst the Hindus and they pray to him as the god of immense large-heartedness who they believe grants all their wishes. Around him are weaved many interesting stories that reveal His magnanimous heart. Not only this, but these stories and legends also enrich the Indian culture and art.
Time is invisible and formless. Therefore Mahakal Shiva, as per the Vedas, manifested himself as "LINGUM" to make mankind aware of the presence of Eternal Time. That day when Shiva manifested himself in the form of "Lingum" was the fourth day of the dark night in the month of 'Magha' i.e. February-March. Maha Shivratri continues to be celebrated forever and ever.

Shivaratri Celebrations
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Shivaratri Celebrations in India are marked with devotion and religious fervor. Joy is writ large on the faces of millions of Lord Shiva devotees as they start preparing for the biggest Lord Shiva festival in advance. Celebrations of Shivaratri began with the break of the dawn on the Shivratri day and continue all though the night. Devotees observe fast and spend the day in devotion and worship of Lord Shiva. Many worshippers also participate in the jaagran or the night vigil organized in various Shiva temples across the   Hanuman
country. Devotees believe that sincere observance of Shivaratri puja and all night worship of Lord Shiva will absolve them of all their sins and liberate them from the cycle of birth and death.
After the ritual bath, preferably in the sacred waters of river Ganga, devotees pay a visit to the nearest Lord Shiva temple carrying the traditional puja items like milk, water, bel leaves, fruits, incense stick, oil lamp etc. Due to massive popularity of the festival several stalls selling puja items come up outside the temple and do a thriving business.  
In the bigger and more popular Shiva temples there is massive rush of devotees. Long queues can be noticed as devotees, mostly women, wait for their turn to perform puja. Since, bathing of Shiva Linga with milk is part of the Shivaratri Puja tradition; little rivers are formed due to the excessively overflowing milk and fruit in the Shiva temples on this day.  
Ritual worship of Shiva Linga is done by temple priests every three hours all through the day and night of Shivaratri Festival. Shouts of ‘Shivaji ki Jai’, chanting of the mantra, ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ and ringing of temple bells make the atmosphere religious and devotional.  
Nightlong vigil on Shivratri or the Jaagran is celebrated by singing of devotional hymns and songs in worship of Lord Shiva. And, it is only in the following morning that the devotees break their fast by consuming prasad offered to the Lord.  
 
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