I find most people asking how to celebrate Shivaratri? Shivratri is the day when rituals and worship are given more importance. There is no fun or merrymaking as in other Hindu festivals.
It is a day of renunciation and prayer. It is a day to realize the Brahmn and cleanse ignorance. Lord Shiva appeared in the form of Jyotirlinga on this day. A lingam which had no end and beginning and it symbolizes Brahman.
It is said that one should practice non-violence on this day. Then are things like not to lie, strict brahmacharya, be compassionate etc. But these things should be practiced on all days. So one need not wait for Shivaratri to be compassionate.
Generally most people fast on Shivaratri day by uttering the panchakshari mantra – ‘om namah shivaya.’ Next is keeping vigil all night by worshipping Lord Shiva. Worshipping Shiva with Bilva leaves is considered highly auspicious.
If you have a Shivling at home you can keep on bathing it at night with milk, curd, sugar, honey and ghee. But I guess this would be hard for a devotee to do. So, simple water will do. Remember, Shiva accepts anything when given with utmost devotion.
If you are unable to observe fast or keep vigil during night, you can observe the day by chanting ‘om namah shivaya.’