Maha Shivaratri is an annual festival dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.Unlike most Hindu festivals which are celebrated during the day, the Maha Shivaratri is celebrated at night. Furthermore, unlike most Hindu festivals which include expression of cultural revelry, the Maha Shivaratri is a solemn event notable for its introspective focus, fasting, meditation on Shiva, self study, social harmony and an all night vigil at Shiva temples.
The celebration includes maintaining a "jaagaran", an all-night vigil and prayers, because Shaiva Hindus mark this night as "overcoming darkness and ignorance" in one's life and the world through Shiva. Offerings of fruits, leaves, sweets and milk are made to Shiva, some perform all-day fasting with Vedic or tantric worship of Shiva, and some perform meditative Yoga.
In Shiva temples, "Om Namah Shivaya", the sacred Panchakshari mantra of Shiva, is chanted through the day. Devotees praise Shiva through the recitation of Shiv Chalisa.