Given much of importance in the Hindu Mythological beliefs, Shivratri Puja is a significant and famous celebration of Hindus. The prolonged Puja celebration by the Devotees, on the eve of Shivratri is believed to be an occasion to please Lord Shiva the most. The main belief of celebrating Shivratri is that by pleasing Lord Shankara on the propitious Shivaratri day, a believer is pardoned of past sins and is blessed with Moksha (settle in heavens after death) or salvation.
Worship of Lord Shiva on Shivratri is also considered to be extremely positive for women. For married women pray to Shiva proffers the well being of the male persons in the family (husbands and sons), unmarried women pray for an early marriage with husband like Lord Shiva.
Methods to perform Shivratri Puja
- One must wake up early and take a ritual bath, preferably in the holy waters of river Ganga to perform the Shivratri puja. This is followed by worship to Sun God, Vishnu and Shiva in harmony with the purification rite observed on all-important Hindu festivals. Devotees then wear fresh new clothes and pay a visit to the nearest Shiva temple. It is a practice that many devotees observe a fast on a Shivaratri day. Some do not consume even a drop of water. Following the bath with milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar and water (panchamrit) that helps in the purification of the soul a vermilion paste is applied on the Linga as it represents virtue. These six items form an indispensable part of Shivaratri, be it a simple ceremony at home or grand temple worship.
- Following this, Bilwa (Bel Patra) 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 is symbolic of longevity and gratification of desires. Some devotees also offer the auspicious betel leaves to Lord Shiva marking satisfaction with worldly pleasures. Garlanding of Linga with flowers and garlands is also a part of the ritual Shivaratri Puja. Devotees also burn incense sticks as is said to yield wealth. Many also light lamps to symbolize attainment of knowledge. It is said that by offering water, hugging the Linga, lighting the diya (light) and 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. Devotees stay awake and spent the night in Shiva temples by chanting 'Om Namah Shivaya' and singing hymns and verses in praise of Lord Shankar. Devotees observing fast on Shivaratri break it only the next morning by taking prasad offered to Lord Shiva.
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