Hindus observe the major festival named Shivarathri throughout India on the thirteenth night from the New Moon day in the month of Palghun, which is falling between Feb-March of the English calendar every year, to get the blessings of Lord Shiva, one of the Hindu trinities.According to the legends coming out of Puranas prevailing in the country, it was the day when Lord Shiva offered his life sacrifice by consuming Halahala Poison which also came out when the Devas and Asuras were churning the earth with the help of mount Meru to obtain the divine nectar, which was to be disposed of.
In order to appease Lord Shiva under this condition, Parvati his divine consort advised His devotees to observe certain rituals on this day of Shivarathri, which are presenting betel leaves to the Lord, giving bath to Shivling idol with water, milk, honey and bilwa leaves, showing a lamp in praise of Lord Shiva, burning incense around, applying Vermilion paste on Shivling idol and offering fruits and eatables.
Devotees and pilgrims strongly believe that by observing Shivarathri, it also pleases Rama, who is Vishnu’s Avatar, while they consider that by observing Shivarathri rituals they bring happiness and prosperity to the whole world, while women have faith that sincere following of Shivarathri rituals would render well-being of their respective husbands and children.
The ritual includes one to take bath in sacred rivers, literally or symbolically, keep awake throughout the night of Shivarathri and observe total fasting and praying Him by uttering His name, saying Om Namah Shivaya. Devotees and pilgrims go to Shiva shrines, carrying pots of water from Sacred Rivers to give the celestial bath to the idols of Shiva in the shrine.