In the war of Surasura (Devas and Rakshasas) Suras were afraid of Asuras. Indra, the king of Suras went to Brahma and told him about their difficulty. Brahma approached Sri Maha Vishnu. He suggested them to churn “Ksheera Sagara” (the sea of milk) with the mountain Mandara using Vasuki as rope of the churning staff. They made friendship with important Asuras (Rakshasas) like Balichakravarthi etc., and decided to churn the sea of milk. Taking Suras the tail and Asuras the mouth of Vasuki churned the sea. The tortoise the incornation of Vishnu was carrying the Mandara Mountain.
Hala hala, the great fearful poison was sprung from the sea. Shining brightly and making a great noise the hala hala was firing all the universe from earth to heaven. No one could face it. Brahma and other suras went to Mahadeva and prayed him for the protectoin from the great poison. He said to Sati Devi (his queen) that he could eat the poison as a cherry and protect the universe. He had eaten the hala hala and kept it in his throat. For that reason Mahadeva became Neelakanta orGaralakanta.
Suras and Asuras churned the ocean again and again. Kamadhenu (the mythological cow), ucchaishravam (the horse of Indra), Kalpa tharupu (the wishing tree), The Apsaras, the Moon and Lakshmi Devi sprang from the sea.
Siva did not fall asleep on that night. The devotees installed him with milk throughout the night. Thus the night that Siva swallowing poison awoke all the night is called ‘Maha Sivarathri’.
So the devotees awoke all the night with a fast on Maha Sivarathri.
On the second day the devotees arrange the procession of Parameswara and Parvathi on Mayura Vahana.
On the third day Rathothsava takes place. Many of the pilgrims attend it with great crowd. In the festival days all the facilities like residence, food etc., are arranged in the choultries for all castes of the people.

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