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Maha Shivaratri Jaipur

On the 14th day of the dark half of Margshirsh month the great night of Shiva is celebrated. On this day the devotees of Shiva observe fast. According to a legend once King Bhagiratha left his kingdom to meditate for the salvation of the souls of his ancestors.

He prayed for the holy River Ganga from heaven to wash over his ancestor's ashes to release them from a curse and allow them to go to heaven. But Lord Shiva was the only one who could sustain the weight of her descent. So he prayed to Lord shiva and Ganga descended on Shiva's head, and after meandering through his thick matted locks, reached the earth.

This story is believed to be re-enacted by bathing the linga. The love of water, the primary element of life, is also remembered in this ritualistic action. The linga is bathed with milk, water and honey. It is then anointed with sandalwood paste. People offer wood apple or bel leaves and fruit, milk, sandalwood and jujube fruit or ber to the linga. People decorate the linga with flowers and garlands and also offer incense sticks and fruit.

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