Shivratri is a day of extreme importance for the Hindus. Mahashivratri is the auspicious night dedicated to Lord Shiva. The entire day and night are spent in prayers of Shiva. In this article we discuss the importance of Maha Shivaratri and the rituals associated with worshiping Shiva on this day.
Shiva known by different names like Parmeshwara, Mahesh, Mahadev, Bholenath is considered to be a Supreme God. He is one of the most powerful deities and revered as the transformer or destroyer among the Trinity.
There are many legends associated with the day. According to some it is the day on which
Gangaji descended on Shiva’s head and after meandering in his locks, she touched the earth. Another legend has it that while a devotee stayed perched on a tree in the jungle, he plucked the leaves and threw them on the ground one by one, all the while chanting the name of the Lord in order to stay awake unmindful of the fact that there was ‘Shivlinga’ just under the tree, Shiva got pleased and blessed him on this day.
In this article we discuss how best to worship Lord Shiva on the day of Mahashivratri. Pooja done on the day of Mahashivratri holds remedous value in Hindu Mythology. It is said that pooja undertaken on this day pleases the supreme lord the most. It is also believed that puja done on this day releases a person of all sins and evils and he is blessed with salvation, ‘Moksha’. As per the Shiva Purana, worshipping Lord Shiva sincerely on this day plays an instrumental role in transcending a person on the spiritual path.
How to do Puja ? or Importance of Maha Shivaratri Puja Vidhi
The Shiva Purana prescribes how best to perform puja of the Lord on the day of Mahashivratri.
- The first step for doing puja on Mahashivratri requires one to take bath early in the
morning. It is recommended that black sesame seeds should be added to the water. When one takes bath with this water his body and soul gets purified.
- Another option can be to take a dip in the holy Ganges in the wee hours of the morning. Owing to modern lifestyle, it may not be possible to take bath in the Ganges.
- Surya dev or the Sun God is to be worshipped followed by worshipping Vishnu and Shiva. This starts the puja for the day.
- Worshippers fast for the entire day on the day of Mahashivratri. If a fast is not being observed, people do not intake even a drop of water till the puja ceremonies are completed.
- The abhisheka of Shiva Linga is done with six things that include – milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar and water while chanting of mantras. Each of these elements brings a unique quality for the worshipper. Milk and water represent purity, yogurt represents prosperity, honey sweetness, butter victory, sugar for happiness.
- After the abhisheka, a garland is put around the lingam. The garland is made of bilwa leaves. The leaves are also placed on top of the Shivalinga. Bilwa leaves are known to cool down the hot tempered God. It is important that the stalk should have three leaves to be offered to Shiva.
- This is followed by offering ber or the jujube fruit to the Lord. The fruit represents longevity and satisfaction of desires.
- Betel leaves may also be offered to the lingam. This represents satisfaction of all worldly pleasures
- Incense sticks and lamps are alighted. While incense sticks are said to bring wealth to the worshipper, lightening of the lamps is symbolic of attainment of knowledge.
- Mantras are chanted and temple bells are rung. Chanting of ‘Om Namashivaya’ creates positive vibrations and a charged environment.
The above rituals continue throughout the day and night. Devotees who are on fast break it the next day with Prasad that was offered to Lord Shiva. Celebrations that take place at Ujjain on the day of Mahashivratri are known the world over. Processions are taken out in the city and devotees throng the temples for a glimpse of the Lord.