Maha Shivratri is an auspicious Hindu festival that is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva. The celebration falls on the 13<sup>th night and 14<sup>th day of the Hindu calendar month of Phalguna or Maagh every year and in 2016 it is being observed on the evening of 7 March.

Many Hindus believe that those who worship Lord Shiva on the auspicious day of Maha Shivratri would be cleansed of all their sins, making it one of the most important festivals for the Hindu religion. Maha Shivratri is also said to be the day when Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati got married, bringing together two of the greatest forces in the universe, with Lord Shiva being known as the 'destroyer' of the Universe, paving the way for beneficial change.

IBTimes UK rounds up a few prayer ceremonies taking place in London for Maha Shivratri 2016.

West London

Brahmin Society North London

The Brahmin Society North London is celebrating Maha Shivratri with a puja and Bilva Patra between 8pm and 10pm on the day. Those wishing to attend the prayer ceremony are required to bring their own Shivling, thali and two small spoons. The ceremony will be held in BSNL's communal hall and the puja samagri will be provided by the event organisers.

Registration is required and is being done on a first come, first serve basis so those interested are urged to sign up for the event as early as possible.

When: 8pm – 10pm on 7 March (Monday)

Where: 128 East Lane, North Wembley, London HA0 3NL

For more information visit the BSNL website here.

North London

BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha

The Shri Swaminarayan Mandir are hosting an all-day celebration for Maha Shivratri on 7 March. The celebration begins at 9am with a Maha Rudrabhishek puja, which will be ongoing until 8pm. This prayer ceremony is the most effective one that is practiced in order to appease Lord Shiva and get his blessings for health, wealth and prosperity. At the same time, an Annakut Darshan will be taking place, which sees a food offering to the Gods. Between 7pm and 7.20pm a Sandhya Arti (evening prayer) will take place.

An ice shivalinga, which is a symbol of Lord Shiva, is expected to be displayed at the entrance throughout the day. It provides as a reminder of the town of Amarnath in India, where a natural shivalinga exists.

When: 9am – 8pm on 7 March (Monday)

Where: 105-119 Brentfield Road, Neasden, London NW10 8LD

For more information visit the BAPS Mandir website here.

Dharma Mandir

Dharma Mandir has Maha Shivratri pujas taking place from 4 March until the actual Maha Shivratri day on 7 March. For those who are unable to make the prayer ceremony on Monday after work, this temple is offering Shiv Puran Yagna ceremonies throughout the weekend between 8pm and 10pm every evening.

On Monday the Maha Shivratri puja will begin at 3pm, while the Shiv Abhishek ceremony begins at 6pm and another none at 9pm. Mahaprasad (sweets) will be served.

When: 4 – 7 March (Friday – Monday)

Where: 442-446 Hertford Road, Enfield, London EN3 5QH (enter EN3 5QT for GPS)

For more information visit the Dharma Mandir website here.

East London

Shree Sanatan Dharm Mandal

The Durga Mandir will be having a Maha Shivratri mahotsava and a Pooja of shivalinga. To add to the celebrations, a bhajan (Hindu devoational song) will be led by well-known radio presenter, Ravi Sharma, on the day. The puja (prayer ceremony) of shivalinga is expected to begin at 10.30am and last until 12pm.

For more information please call the organisers on 020 8514 4781.

When: 7.30pm – 9.30pm on 7 March (Monday)

Where: 3-9 Norman Road, Ilford, Essex IG1 2NH

South London

Sivan Kovil Temple

South London's Sivan Kovil Temple will be joining in the Maha Shivratri celebration with four special prayer ceremonies being held throughout the evening and into the night. A number of different pujas including an Abhishekham, will be taking place alongside a cultural programme and bhajans. Those interested in attending the event are required to pre-register through the temple ticket hall.

When: 6pm onwards on 7 March (Monday)

Where: 4A Clarendon Rise, Lewisham, London SE13 5ES

For more information visit the Sivan Kovil website here.