Maha Shivratri is dedicated to Lord Shiva and celebrated during the 13th or 14th night in the month of Phalguna or Magha. Maha Shivratri means “The great night of Lord Shiva”. Unlike the other Hindu festivals that is celebrated in the days, this festival is celebrated the whole night. Devotees observe fast and pray to Lord Shiva the whole night.
According to Hindu mythology, it is the day when Lord Shiva saved the universe by consuming the poison and held it in his throat. During the Samudra manthan (churning of the ocean), done by the demons and gods for obtaining nectar to make them immortal. The first pot that emerged was a deadly poison which had the power to destroy whole of the world. They realised that only Shiva can save them from this poison and approached him. Lord Shiva agreed and consumed the poison and held it in his throat. If the poison would have dropped in his stomach (that is where he holds the universe), the whole of the universe would have been destroyed. From that day onwards, he is Also, called as Neelkanth. This day is celebrated as Maha Shivratri when Lord Shiva saved the Universe. According to another legend, this is the day when Lord Shiva performs the heavenly dance of creation, preservation and destruction. Also, this is Also, the day that Lord Shiva and Parvati got married.
Rudra puja or Maha Shivratri puja is the ceremonial puja performed on this day. Unmarried women pray to Lord Shiva to get a husband like him, while the married women pray for the well being of their husband and sons. Devotees worship the Linga and revolve it around it three to seven times by chanting the Shiva mantra. They pour milk or holy water over the linga. “Om Namah Shivaya” is the mantra chanted during the Shivratri, as it is known to instinctively elevate the energy and is known to harmonize the five elements of the nature.