Mahashivratri is one of the greatest and the most celebrated Hindu festivals when Lord Shiva is glorified, worshipped and honored with sanctifying rituals throughout the night. The word Shiva means all-auspicious. Maha means great, and Ratri means night. Maha Shivaratri means The Great Night of Shiva.
For Lord Shiva devotees Maha Shivaratri 2015 is the most important and pious day of the year. It is believed that on the day of Mahashivratri whichever devotee of Lord Shiva worships Him with true devotion is absolved of all sins and is blessed with Nirvana (Moksha). On Maha Shivratri the Universal Spiritual energy is at its peak and thus the effects of the prayers offered to Lord Shiva on the day of Mahashivaratri gets magnified many folds.
Lord Shiva is the most revered Hindu God who, as all the Vedic scriptures confirm is the fountainhead of perfection, yoga, meditation, bliss and spirituality. In the ancient times or Vedic ages, prominent saints sought Lord Shiva’s blessing for moksha, Kshatriyas prayed to Him for strength and honor, merchants and traders worshipped him for economic gains and wealth, and servant class offered their prayers to Him for daily bread and butter.
Srimad Bhagvatam (4.6.34) mentions that Lord Shiva is surrounded by saintly persons like Kubera, the lord of wealth, and the four Kumaras, who are celibate and liberated souls. It implies that Lord Shiva is the refuge for both, desirers of wealth and seekers of liberation from various miseries of the world.
Maha Shivrati means “Great Night of Lord Shiva. It is believed that once when Maa Parvati asked Lord Shiva “what kind of rituals or worship by His devotees pleases Him the most?” Lord Shiva replied that worship with Bel patra on the 14th day of waning moon in the month of Phalgun by devotees pleases Him the most. From then onwards this day is celebrated as Mahashivratri.
Maha Shivaratri is considered as a blissful night when all followers of Shiva take refuge in him. Those who take refuge get free from all miseries and sufferings. Shivratri is considered as auspicious night for paying offerings and prayers to Lord Shiva. Followers all over the world wait for this night to seek blessings from Lord Shiva. Mahashivratri Festival, the grand night of Shiva this year will fall on 17th of February, 2015. It will fall on a moonless February night & will be celebrated with much fervour and enthusiasm to honour Lord Shiva.
Significance of Mahashivaratri
- It is believed that on the day of Maha Shivratri, Lord Shiva revealed his Lingam form. So in order to pay tribute, devotees perform the Rudra Abhishekham at midnight of Mahashivaratri to worship the formless Sadashiv.
- Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati got married on the day of Mahashivaratri. Thus from 'Nirgun Brahman' He became "Sagun Brahman" due to Maya power of Parvati.
- Lord Shiva drank the poison Halahal that emerged during the churning of Kshir Sagar or the milky ocean and saved the world from humanity on this day. As an effect of poison the Lord Shiva's throat turned blue and since then He is also known as Neelkantha.
- Also on the night of Mahashivratri Lord Shiva is said to reveal Tandava, the dance of primordial conception, preservation, sustenance and destruction.
- On the day of Maha Shivaratri, Maa Parvati performed strict penance for Lord Shiva.
Rituals on Lord Shiva
As a tradition, devotees wake up early in the morning of the Mahashivratri day and take a ritual sunrise bath, preferably in the holy waters of river Ganga. They also offer prayers to the Sun God, Vishnu and Shiva as a part of a purification rite observed on all-important Hindu festivals. After wearing fresh new clothes devotees visit the nearest Shiva Temple to give the customary bath to the Shivalinga.
During this period, Shiva temples are swarmed by devotees, mainly women, who seek blessings of Lord Shiva by performing traditional Shiva linga pooja. As a ritual, circumambulation around Shiva linga for three or seven times and pouring water or milk over linga is done
Shivling Abhishek on Mahashivratri
Following the rituals prescribed in the Shiva Purana, every three hours, Shivalingam is given a special bath with milk, yoghurt, honey, sandalwood paste and rose water. Puja, meditation and chanting of ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ accompany the ritual bath. Following the bath, vermilion paste is applied on the linga. Traditionally, leaves of a forest tree Aegle marmelos (bilwa, maredu, wood apple) are used for Shiva Puja. Thereafter, Bilwa leaves, which have to be a stalk with three leaves, is kept on top of the Shivalinga. Ber or jujube fruit is a special offering to the god on this day. Beetle leaves are also offered by some. Some also offer bilwa leaves in the belief that the Goddess Lakshmi resides in them. Others believe it is offered for its cooling effects on the hot-tempered deity. Many devotees also decorate the linga with flowers and garlands and offer incense sticks and fruit.
How to Worship Lord Shiva on Mahashivaratri
Those who seek blessings by offering prayer to Lord Shiva continue to pray all through the night of Maha Shivaratri. Devotees stay awake all night and spend the night in Shiva temples or where they are offering Puja in worship of Lord Shiva. Singing of hymns and verses in praise and devotion of Lord Shiva besides the intense chanting of Om Namah Shivay, the mantra that is said free people from all their sins, continue through the night on Shivaratri.
During this ritual worship, Lord Shiva is offered special food made from the fruits of the season, root vegetables and coconuts. Those who observe Shivaratri Fast break their fast the next morning by consuming the prasad offered to Shiva.
Mahashivaratri Pujas and other rituals
Pujas are performed as per instructions written in Shiva Purana. It is said to perform ritual puja of Shiva Linga every three hours all through the day and night of Shivaratri. During this pooja, followers chant mantra of “Om Namah Shivaya”. It is followed by bath with milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar and water that helps in the purification of the soul. Also a vermilion paste is applied on the Linga. These six items form an indispensable part of Shivaratri, be it a simple ceremony at home or grand temple worship
After this, Bilwa leaves, which have to be a stalk with three leaves, is kept on top of the Shivalinga to cool the hot-tempered deity. Ber or jujube fruit is also offered to Lord Shiva, as it symbolises longevity and gratification of desires. Some devotees also offer the auspicious betel leaves to Lord Shiva marking satisfaction with worldly pleasures. Devotees also burn incense sticks as is said to yield wealth. Many light lamps to symbolize attainment of knowledge. It is believed following the ritual of of offering water, embracing Linga, illuminating diya & incense and ringing the temple bells, devotees call into focus all their senses, making them acutely aware of themselves and the universe to which they belong.
This ritual worship of Lord Shiva continues through the day and night of Shivaratri. It is needless to say devotees stay awake and spent the night in Shiva temples by chanting the Universal mantra of lord Shiva ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ and singing hymns and verses in his praise.
Auspicious Muhurat timings on Mahashivaratri
- 1st prahar: 8:30 PM
- 2nd prahar: 9:44 PM
- 3rd Prahar: 12.52 AM
- 4th prahar: 4:00 AM
Hymns and Mantras that please Lord Shiva
The best mantra is Maha Mrityunjay Mantra from the Sukla Yajurveda Samhita III. 60.
|| Om Trayambakam Yajaamahe
Mrityor Mokshiya Mamritaat ||
The meaning of the Mantra is as follows:
I worship thee, O sweet Lord of transcendental vision (the three -eyed one or Lord Siva). O giver of health and prosperity to all, may I be free from the bonds of death, just as a melon (or cucumber) is severed effortlessly from its bondage or attachment to the creeper.
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- Somnath Temple (Gujarat)
- Mallikarjun Temple (Andhra pradesh)
- Mahakaleshwara Temple (Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh)
- Omkareshwar Temple (Madhya Pradesh)
- Vaidyanath Temple (Deogarh, Bihar)
- Bhimashankar Temple (near Pune, Maharashtra)
- Rameshwaram Temple (Tamil Nadu)
- Nageshwar Temple (Dwarka, Gujarat)
- Vishwanath Temple (Varanasi)
- Trimbakeshwar Temple (Nasik, Maharashtra)
- Kedarnath Temple (Uttarakhand)
- Grishneshwar Temple (Daulatabad, Maharashtra)
Shiva lingams represent Lord Shiva or the primeval and primary energy of the Universe. Shiva linga are installed in homes or offices to harness harmonious and positive vibrations. While Shiva is soul, Shakti is mind..
The Union of soul and mind is the source of all creation in this world. Worshiping Shivlinga ushers prosperity, good health, good fortune and provides relief, protection and spiritual upliftment. According to the Linga Purana, worship of different types of Shiva lingams yields different results. Read More