This year, the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivratri will be celebrated on 21st February. This festival is celebrated with great fervour across the country and is also known as, 'The Great Night of Shiva.'
On this holy occasion, 'Shiv Bhakts' or the devotees of Lord Shiva try to immerse themselves into deep meditation and pray to the Mystical demigod for their health and happiness. Although the central idea behind celebrating this festival is that it signifies the day Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati tied the knot, there are a host of other ideas that make it even more important.
Why is Maha Shivratri celebrated?
There are a number of legends that revolve around celebrating this occasion. According to some, it is celebrated on the night that Shiva took the form of 'Natraj' and performed the tandava dance. The Tandava stands for the cycle of the creation and destruction on life on the planets.
According to others, it signifies the legend of 'Samundra Manthan', the day Lord Shiva drank poison, that emerged as a result of the churning of the ocean.
What women usually do?
Mahashivratri is considered extremely auspicious for women and they pray for the long lives of their husband and children. Unmarried women pray for an ideal husband, someone who possesses a personality even remotely as good as lord Shiva's.
Rituals on the D-day:
Devotees wake up early in the morning and have a bath, preferably with sesame seeds. Some devotees visit the Ganges especially on this occasion, to take a dip in the holy water.
Subsequently, prayers are offered to Lord Surya (The Sun God) and to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. Devotees then visit a Shiva temple to offer prayers.
Devotees fast all day. Also, it is recommended that it is best to eat only one meal a day prior to the occasion, leaving no trace of undigested food in the body. Some devotees resort to strict fasting options like only having water throughout the day, while some don't even drink water.
The most important part of Maha Shivratri is the Abhishek that is performed by offering items like honey, ghee, milk, yoghurt, and rose water on the linga. After the Abhishek is performed, the linga is adorned with bel leaves and garlands. It is a must to chant, 'Om Namah Shivaya' during the puja.
Mantras to chant on Maha Shivratri
1. ॐ नमः शिवाय॥
Om Namah Shivaya
2. ॐ त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम्
उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान् मृत्योर्मुक्षीय मामृतात्॥
Om Tryambakam Yajamahe Sugandhim Pushti-Vardhanam
Urvarukamiva Bandhanan Mrityormukshiya Mamritat
3. ॐ तत्पुरुषाय विद्महे महादेवाय धीमहि
तन्नो रुद्रः प्रचोदयात्
Om Tatpurushaya Vidmahe Mahadevaya Dhimahi
Tanno Rudrah Prachodayat
Prayer songs you can listen to on Maha Shivratri:
Food during Maha Shivratri:
It is necessary to stick to consuming satvik delicacies while fasting for the occasion and even after you break the fast, post offering your final prayers to Lord Shiva.
Ensure that you stock up on as many fruits as possible, this is because Maha Shivratri is incomplete without fruits. Other than fruits, those who are keeping the fast can also indulge in beverages; such as thandai, juice, milkshakes, and lemonade. Some devotees prefer eating something wholesome during their fast and cannot only consume fruits and beverages. For them, it is best to have food such as sabudana khichdi or sabudana wadas, potato chips, kuttu atta pakodas and paneer.
Timings of the Puja:
Maha Shivratri Parana: February 22, 6:54am to 3:25pm
Beginning of Chaturdashi tithi- February 21, 5:20pm
End of Chaturdashi Tithi- February 22, 7:02pm
Pooja time for Nishita Kaal- February 22, 12:09am to 1:00am