Maha Shivaratri is celebrated annually in honor of Lord Shiva. The name also refers the night when he performs his heavenly dance, which occurs once every month but, once a year, in late winter and before the arrival of Summer (February/March), this night is called “Maha Shivaratri” – “the Great Night of Shiva”.
The celebration of Maha Shivaratri is a time to reflect on one’s life and what they might do differently. The celebration includes maintaining a “jaagaran”, an all nighter vigil marking one’s passage through darkness into enlightenment followed up by handheld offerings such as flowers etc., after sunrise next day. Offerings of fruits, leaves, sweets and milk to Shiva are made, some perform all-day fasting with vedic or tantric worship of Shiva, and some perform meditative Yoga. Devotees visit Shiva temples or go on pilgrimage to Jyotirlingams. In Shiva temples, “Om Namah Shivaya”, the sacred mantra of Shiva, is chanted through the day. Devotees praise Shiva through the recitation of Shiv Chalisa.