While most Hindu festivals are celebrated during the day, Mahashivratri is celebrated during the night and day that come just before the new moon. Mahashivratri dedicated to Shiva, one of the deities of the Hindu Trinity. Devotees of Shiva observe a fast during Mahashivratri and stay up all night at a place of worship. Shiva is offered special food made from the fruits of the season, root vegetables, and coconuts, during ritual worship. Those who observe the Mahashivratri fast only break their fast the next morning, and eat the prasad (food offerings) offered to Shiva. Young girls observe the fast and worship Shiva so that he may bless them with good husbands. They sing devotional songs in praise of the lord, and holy texts are chanted throughout the night. The pandits in the temples perform the puja (religious worship) according to the scriptures. This is done four times during the night. In temples, Shiva linga – the phallic symbol of Lord Shiva – is worshipped. Devotees flock to the temples to perform the ritual of bathing the Shiva linga. It is bathed with milk, water and honey, and then anointed with sandalwood paste, and decorated with flowers and garlands.
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