Among the twelve Shivaratris in a year, Maha Shivaratri that falls in the month of phalguna, is considered the most holy. For the Mauritian Hindus it is a highly celebrated occasion. Forty days prior to Maha Shivaratri people start fasting, some with rigid fasts, building Kanwars etc.
I learned from my father the Maha Shivaratri fast starts as from Vasant Panchami, the day when prayers are offered to Goddess Sarasvati and musical instruments are played. It also marks the beginning of "Chawtaal & Dhamaar" singing; folkloric songs mostly written in "Brij" and "Awadhi". I grew up listening to these and I sign from time to time, maybe during the Holi celebrations.
At my place since a couple of years Maha Shivaratri is celebrated not only with fasting but also with food offering to pilgrims at the Ganga Talao. The preps started on Friday night and concluded with cooking of Vegetarian Biryani the next morning.
We left home around noon to only reach Ganga Talao at 19h00 :-) Oh, traffic! Even people going by car have to burn their Karma, right.