Apart from the “Samudra Manthan ” ( the churning of the milky ocean from which both poison and nectar emerged – read article ” The Night of MahaShivaratri” MArch 2011) there are other popular stories that inspire the festival of the night dedicated to Lord Shiva.
One of the most popular legends of Maha Shivratri is that of the marriage of Shiva and Shakti. The day Lord Shiva got married to Parvati is celebrated as Shivratri – the Night of Lord Shiva. It tells us how Lord Shiva got married a second time to Shakti, his divine consort. There is another version of the legend, according to which Goddess Parvati performed austerities and prayers on the auspicious moonless night of Shivratri, for the well being of her husband. Believing in this legend, married women began the custom of praying for the well being of their husbands and sons on Maha Shivratri, while, unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva, who is considered to be the ideal partner.