Sivaratri, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is celebrated on the moonless night of the month of Phalguna, which is the fourteenth day in the krishnapaksha or dark half. Owing to a special planetary conjunction, spiritual practices done on this day are considered to be especially auspicious and beneficial. There is a reference to this in one of the Puranas, where Shiva himself tells Parvati Devi [the Divine Mother] that this day is particularly dear to him, and that those who perform the prescribed austerities on this day will be freed from all sins.
One popular story from the Puranas goes like this: There was once a poor hunter from Varanasi. His name was Suswara. He lived with his wife and child in a small hut. Theirs was a hand-to-mouth existence. Suswara would go to the forest and hunt whatever game came his way, and thus feed his family. One particular day, he caught many small animals and birds, which he put into a sack. Encouraged by the catch, he wandered deeper into the forest in search of more game. Soon darkness set in and he turned to go home. He was a little worried as the forest was infested with dangerous animals. He did not like the idea of spending the night there. Soon it became very dark. Unable to find his way back, Suswara climbed a tree to be safe from the wild animals.
Attracted by his scent, animals came lurking under the tree. Hoping to scare them away, Suswara plucked some twigs from the tree and threw them at the animals, but to no avail. Throughout the night the animals kept prowling beneath the tree.
Suswara was unable to get even a wink of sleep. He kept vigil throughout the night. He plucked leaves from the tree, which happened to be a bilva tree, and dropped them on the ground. Unknown to Suswara, there was a Shivalinga at the foot of the tree; and so, although he was unaware of it, by dropping the sacred bilva leaves, Suswara was making a sacred offering to the Shivalinga. That night happened to be Shivaratri. So the hunter had unknowingly kept a night-long vigil and worshipped Shiva.
According to the Shiva Purana, the Mahashivaratri worship should incorporate six items: offering bilva leaves to the deity after giving it a ceremonial bath, which represents purification of the soul; applying vermilion paste on the linga after bathing it, which represents virtue; offering food, which is conducive to longevity and the gratification of desires; lighting incense, which yields wealth; lighting an oil lamp, which signifies the attainment of knowledge; and offering betel leaves, which marks satisfaction with worldly pleasures. These six items form an indispensable part of the Mahashivaratri worship, be it a simple ceremony at home or grand temple worship.
El Shivaratri o Festival de “La Noche de Shiva” se celebra en honor del Señor Shiva, una de las deidades de la Trinidad hindú. Shivaratri cae en la noche sin luna, 14ta luna nueva del mes hindú de Phalgun, que corresponde a febrero-marzo del calendario occidental. Al celebrar la fiesta de Shivaratri los devotos ayunan día y noche, y llevan a cabo la adoración ritual de la Shivalingam para apaciguar al Señor Siva.