Shivarathri fast is considered to be most important and auspicious fast for devotees of Lord Shiva as they believe it is equal to performing an Ashwamedha Yagna. Every year devotees observe Maha Shivaratri with devotion and sincerity to seek blessings of divine Lord Shiva.
As per norms of Hindu mythology,observance of shivaratri vrat helps a devotee to control the two great natural forces that afflict a man, rajas guna (quality of passionate activity) and tamas guna (the quality of inertia).
On the day of festival, devotees wash themselves with hot water mixed with black sesame seeds to wash away body impurities,put on fresh clothes and visit Lord Shiva temple to perform rituals by giving milk bath to sacred Shiva linga and decorate it with flowers followed by aarthi and bhajans to invoke blessings of Divine lord Shiva.
Some devotees observe fast by being on diet of fruits and milk,while some observe fast even without consuming water throughout the day.
Unlike other festivals, Shivaratri fast continues throughout the whole day,where devotees worship throughout the day with great devotion and sincerity followed by chanting mantras, listening kathas i.e, stories related to happening of sacred night, bhajans etc.It is only on next morning,devotees break their fast by consuming prasadam offered in temple.
The merit of observing Shivaratri vrath is one will be released from cycle of birth and death.One believes that,by observing fast devotee gain control over natural forces that afflicts man i.e, rajas guna (quality of passionate feeling) and tamas guna (the quality of inertia).
One of the aspect of this festival is it is performed throughout the day to seek countless blessings of Lord shiva.