Shivaratri, celebrated on the 14th day of the waning moon in the month of Feb-March is often believed to be a celebration of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati’s marriage. Celebrated a day ahead of the new moon it heralds new beginnings. The marriage signifies the union of the male (Yin) and female (Yang) energy in us humans engaged in the continuous process of creating, nurturing and evolving. Recognizing the Lord Shiva residing in us destroys the unwanted and transforms our life.
Staying up through the night, worshipping the lord with different items (water, curd, ghee, honey,) during the 4 praharas is an opportunity for us to observe ourselves, accept ourselves, love ourselves and purify our soul. The 4 prahars are equal time divisions between sunset and sunrise roughly of 3 hours duration.
At the end of the worship, the Shiva Linga is adorned with sandalwood and bilwa leaf (stone apple leaf) which are supposed to cool down Lord Shiva. The Bilwa Leaf is a combination of 3 leaves signifying the 3 forms of Shiva, 3 interpretations of time, space etc. Some people fast through the day and it has its own benefits to help us focus and centre our energy on the deepest desires of our life.