On this day, devotees stay awake throughout the night offering prayers to Lord Shiva. They offer special food made from seasonal fruits like root vegetables and coconut. The festival is celebrated on a major scale in famous temples of Shiva at Varanasi, Kalahasti (Andhra Pradesh) and Chidambaram (Tamil Nadu).

The day is marked as an important date for all the devotees of Shiva. They stay awake for the entire night and perform various rituals, from chanting to preparing of sacred food. Women wake up early on the Shivratri morning and visit a nearby temple, barefoot. They pour milk and gangajal over the shivalinga and worship it.

Fasting is a very common tradition on this day and worshippers eat the other morning. Also, married women pray for the well being of their husbands and sons, while unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva, who is considered to fit the bill of ideal husband. Reason being, ‘He’ more or less has each and every quality that a woman would want in her future husband.

Songs 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/she reaches the abode of Shiva and lives happily. It is also believed that he/she is liberated from the cycle of birth and death.

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