Maha-Shivaratri is celebrated on the fourteenth day in the month of Magha (January/February). On this night Lord Shiva is said to have performed the Tandava or the dance of creation, preservation and destruction.
Devotees of Shiva fast during the day and maintain a long vigil during the night. According to ancient scriptures, Shiva manifests himself in the form of a huge flaming lingam known as Jyotirlinga on Shivratri. On the day of Shivratri in Shiva temples, the lingam is bathed with the five sacred offerings of a cow, called the panchagavya - milk, sour milk, urine, butter and dung. Thereafter the five foods of immortality - milk, clarified butter, curd, honey and sugar - are placed before the lingam.
Lord Shiva is worshipped to release the worshipper from the cycle of birth and rebirths. In Kashmir, the festival is observed for 15 days, the thirteenth day is observed as Herath,
a day of fast followed by a family feast.