Maha Shivratri is a Hindu festival celebrated largely in India and Nepal in reverence of Lord Shiva. It is also known as Padma Rajarathri. The festival is celebrated every year in the dark fortnight or Krishna Paksha(waning moon) on the 13th night/14th day of the Maagha month of the Hindu calendar.
According to the legend, this day is a very dear day to Lord Shiva because on this day Lord Shiva was married to Mother Parvati. Hence this day is celebrated as Mahashivratri. It is said that on this auspicious day, a person who observes a fast and worships Lord Shiva will never have to endure the torture of hell.
What does this day
The festival is principally celebrated by offerings of Bael or Bilva/Vilvam leaves to Lord Shiva. Many devotees also observe all-day fasting and an all-night-long vigil and chant the sacred Panchakshara mantra dedicated to Lord "Om Namah Shivaya". Some devotees also do penances to gain boons in the practice of Yoga and meditation.
On Mahashivratri, Nishita Kala is the ideal time to observe Shiva Pooja. On this day, in all Shiva's temples, the most auspicious Lingodbhava puja is performed.
On this day, the devotees start visiting temples since early morning. They offer cold water, milk and bael leaves on the Shiv Lingam.
In Nepal, millions of Hindus attend Shivaratri together from different part of the world at the famous Pashupatinath Temple. Thousand of devotees also attend Mahasivaratri at all the different famous Shiva Shakti Peetham of Nepal.
A week-long International Mandi Shivratri Fair is held at Mandi in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh every year which is also one of the major tourist attractions in the state.