Devotees throng temple on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri on Wednesady (Februrary 13). This year Shivratri will be celebrated from the night of February 13 to 14th day. It's a festival that is dedicated to Lord Shiva which is also called as the Great Night of Shiva.
Ideally, the Shivaratri fast starts in the morning and continues till the next day morning --- the person observing the fast can have fruits and milk, along with regular "vrat" food. However, no food should be consumed after sunset.
It is said that whoever fasts on this day achieves the meditation benefits of a whole year.
What to do on this day:
# Early Bath: Devotees are expected to take bath with warm water and sesame seeds. It is also said that wearing new clothes is not a must but one must wear clean cotton clothes after bath.
# Lingam: You are suppose to bathe Shiva's lingam with water, milk and some honey. Offer 'Bilva' leaf or the Belpatra, dhatura fruit, Akanda flowers, turmeric, kumkum and sandalwood.
# Chant Mantra: While praying, one must chant the mantra Om Namah Shivaya.
What not to DO:
# Bronze Pot: While offering milk, curd or water, ensure you use a copper pot and not a bronzer one.
# Basil Leaves: Do not offer tulsi leaves as it might upset Lord Shiva. Tulsi leaves are usually known as symbolic to Goddess Laxmi, the wife of Lord Vishnu.
# Saffron: Devotees make use of Kum Kum during all auspicious occasions, but on Shivratri and on Mondays devotees should refrain from offering saffron and opt for ash instead which Lord Shiva applies on his forehead.
# Bael: Make sure that the paan leaf that you will offer is not cut or affected. Clean it thoroughly and only then offer it to the deity.
# Taking rounds of Shivling: According to the Shiv Puran, the devotee isn’t supposed to take a full round around the Shivling. A full circle is said to offend the lord and the blame will be on you.