Shivaratri Rituals and Celebrations

Shivaratri Rituals and CelebrationsDevotees of Lord Shiva observe the Shivaratri Festival by following the rituals with sincerity and devotion. Devotees abstain from eating food and break their fast only the next morning, after the nightlong worship. Ritual baths of Shivalinga is another significant feature of Shivratri customs and traditions. Worship of Lord Shiva on the auspicious day of Shivaratri absolves them of past sins and they are blessed with Moksha.
Devotees They also offer prayers to the Sun God, Vishnu and Shiva as a part of a purification rite observed on all-important Hindu festivals. After wearing fresh new clothes devotees visit the nearest Shiva Temple to give the customary bath to the Shivalinga.
On a Shivratri day, Shiva temples are swarmed by devotees, mainly women, who come to perform the traditional Shivalinga pooja and seek blessings from the god. Devotees circumvent around the Shivalinga, three or seven times, and then pour water or milk over it. Traditionally, leaves of a forest tree Aegle marmelos (bilwa, maredu, wood apple) are used for Shiva puja. Ber or jujube fruit is also a special offering to the god on this day. Beetle leaves are also offered by some. Some also offer bilwa leaves in the belief that the Goddess Lakshmi resides in them. Many devotees also decorate the linga with flowers and garlands and offer incense sticks and fruit. Devotees stay awake all night and spend the night in Shiva temples in worship of Lord Shiva. Singing of hymns and verses are continuously sung in praise and devotion of Lord Shiva along with chanting of Om Namah Shivay. Those observing the Shivaratri Fast break their fast the next morning by consuming the prasad offered to Shiva.

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