Shivaratri is one of the special festivals celebrated all over India and some other coutries. Shiva is one such God, who is liked by all the age groups of people. It is celebrated on Krishna paksha chaturdasi of lunar month Maagha which will fall in the month of February or March. It is the best day for spiritual realization.
Shiva is both form and formless. He is without the beginning and the end and he is formless. Shiva is the life force within everyone. It is also called as auspicious, prosperous. Shiva is not sitting somewhere; he is within every atom of this universe. Shiva is the part of us and we are all part of shiva. The storis in the scriptures and puranas will have the deep meaning. We just have to interpret the meaning.
In most of the shiva temples, the worship is done to shival linga not a statue of shiva. In Sanskrit, Linga means ‘mark’ or ‘symbol’. This means that shivalinga is the representation of Lord Shiva, which reminds that Shiva is omnipotent or formless. Linga is the form of a cosmic egg which represents Brahmanda. It is the representation of union of the duality of the Shiva, which are ‘Purusha’ (matter) and ‘Shakti’ (energy). Unfortunately many people think it is the sexual union.
There are three parts in the Shiva linga: base part which manifests Brahma, middle part which manifests Vishnu and top top part which manifests Shiva. There are many types of lingas, like Chala (moveable), Achala (Fixed) and Chalachala (both moveable and fixed).
Shiva loves Bilva or Bel leaves. Bilva tree is considered very sacred and its leaves are very important in Shiva pooja offerings and rituals. It is believed that these leaves will cool down the lord Shiva. It symbolizes purification of the soul. Bilva leaves are trifoliate or tripatra (three leaves together). These three parts represents various trinities. They are:
- Three eye of Lord Shiva.
- Trimurthi – Brahma (Creation), Vishnu (Preservation) and Maheshwara (destruction).
- Trigunas or qualities such as Satwa, Rajas and Tamas
- Three syllables of Omkara (primordial sound) – Akara, Ukara and Makara
It is very auspicious to have a Bilva tree at home. It has many medical properties.
How to perform the Shivaratri Puja
Fasting is very important on this day. Shiva Purana says that whoever does shivaratri puja with sencierity and devotion, he will be blessed by Lord Shiva. This is because when we eat and when our stomach is full, then our body is dominated by Rajas guna (passionate activity) and Tamas guna (inertia). So when we fast and do worship, our satwik nature increases. Please click the link to know more on fasting.
One should get up early in the morning and take bath. After taking bath, one should do sandhyavandanam and other rituals. Otherwise, just light a lamp. Take a wow (sankalp) to observe the fast and think and act positively. It is advisable to observe strict fast but water, milk and fruits are allowed.
Abhisheka for Shiva linga is performed with water, milk, sandalwood paste, honey, ghee, sugar and water. After that Chandan and Kumkum should be applied on the Shiva linga. Bilva patra should be offered. Then other flowers and fruits can be offered. Incense stick also should be lighted.
These are the ritualistic part. But very important part to be done is chanting mantra and Japa. Chant the mantra ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ throughout the day and night. You can also chant ‘Shiva Chalisa’ or Sri Rudra. It is essential to have pure and positive thoughts and deeds. You can also participate in pujas and bhajans done in temples.
Also Read: Different Forms of Shiva