Legend of Maha Shivaratri
A tiger was chasing a man and the man out of fear ran and ran and finally climbed a tree and sat on its branch. He did not know the tree which he climbed was the bel (Vilva) tree. The tiger was also following the man and sat just under the tree. A Shiva Linga was available under the tree. The man out of fear started plucking the leaves (bel leaves) and dropped them one by one just below the Shiva Linga the whole night. Next day morning, Lord Shiva appeared before the man and blessed him. The man attained moksha which means soul liberation. Hence the people believed that observing fast and performing abhisekams & pujas on Shiva Linga during the Shivaratri occasion will facilitate the soul liberation.
At Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple, Sri Maha Shivaratri festival is celebrated in a grand manner every year. During Shivaratri festival, Lord Sundareswarar is performed four time abhisekams and pujas the full night. The first puja will be at 10 p.m., the second puja will be at 12 a.m., the third puja will be at 2 a.m., and the fourth puja will be at 4 a.m. Devotees are requested to participate in the Shivratri festival and attain the Lord's grace on this occasion. Specifically, Shivaratri festival is celebrated in all twelve Jyothirlinga temples in a splendid manner. More than thousands of devotees visit the Jyothirlinga temples on this occasion.