He swallows poisons and sins to save his devotees. During this holy night the devotees of Lord Shiva fast, meditate, pray and sing the glory of the Saviour.
Whatever is offered to Lord Shiva with devotion is pleasing to Him. On this night He showers blessings abundantly. On the day of Shivratri, 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. Dhatura and jati, though poisonous fruits, are believed to be sacred to Shiva and thus offered at his temple. Eleven is considered to be the sacred number of the Lord.
Devotees keep a fast (vrat) on Shivratri and observe strict rules, for vardan (boon). Special celebrations are held at important Shiva temples at Chidambaram, Kalahasi, Khajuraho and Varanasi . Worship of Shiva is to release the worshipper from the cycle of birth and rebirth. In Kashmir , the festival is held for 15 days, the thirteenth day is observed as Herath, a day of fast followed by a family feast.