"Thy name oh lord is Shiva, who guides our soul and karma!"
The new year starts with many auspicious occasions marking the onset of a beautiful journey that has been laid for the year ahead. One such festival, known in the world as 'Maha Shivratra' falls on the 13th night/14th day in the Krishna Paksha every year in the month of Falgun according to the Hindu calendar. The festival which is in veneration of Lord Shiva, marks the celebration of the day when the supreme lord married Maa Parvati.
Given the fact that today we are busy in our mundane lives, here's a quick check-list of how to perform the Maha Shivratri puja at home. So, let the devotion inside you precede all other emotions while my lord shall make way for his blessings.
There are several kinds of offerings which are presented before the lord and goddess on this very day. According to Shiv Purana, the following items are a must:
1. The Shiva Linga must be bathed with water, milk and honey. Also, woodapple or baelpatra must be offered to the lord, as it symbolises purification of the soul.
2. After the bathing ritual of the Linga, one must apply the vermilion paste to it. This represents virtue.
3. Then different kinds of fruits must be offered to the Lingaa, symbolising longevity and fulfilment of desires.
4. What follows after the above mentioned steps is lighting an incense stick, as it stands for yielding wealth.
5. After incense, it is time to light a lamp which refers to attainment of knowledge.
6. Offering bael patra stands for satisfaction from the worldly pleasures.
There might be a slight difference in the way people belonging to several castes and clans worship the deity, but what is of prime significance—is the 'purity' of your devotion. The feeling with which you revere the god.
First and foremost, be an early riser on Maha Shivratri. Take a bath and adorn new clothes (people in north India buy new clothes for the day). Also, in order to go the traditional way, if you have some sesame seeds at home—add them in your bathing water (it signifies purity).
The day calls for fasting in some traditions. Therefore, you may observe a full day fast for the love of your lord. After this follows the puja process which includes Linga Abhishek.
Start the Shiva Linga Abhishek with water, milk or yoghurt. You can also add rose water, sandal wood paste, sugar, ghee and honey. These items are essential for the Shiva Abhishek on Maha Shivaratri.
There are people who perform the Shiva puja according to four prahars (quarters) in a day. So, for them, they must use water during first prahar, yoghurt during second, Ghee during third and honey during fourth prahar.
Shiva loves baelpatra and dhatura. So, after you are done with the Linga Abhishek—offer some baelpatras (betel leaves), dhatura, sandal wood paste and bhasm (vibhuti) to the Linga.
After these offerings, light a lamp before the lord and also use an incense stick (or dhup) if you want. Pleasing Lord Shiva of all the other Gods is the easiest—so if your heart is clean and your intentions are genuine—he will listen to all your worries. Just chant the magical mantra 'Om Namah Shivai' while making these offerings.
You can also read the 'Shiva Chalisa' and Shiva's 108 names, followed by the Shiva Aarti. Keep Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati's idol in front of you while you chant their mantras for blessings. Remember this is a day of celebration and happiness—don't forget to visit their temple.
You can perform the puja at night too—there is no time to show your love and obeisance for the lord. You can spend the entire night by chanting 'Om Namah Shivai' and 'Maa Parvati's name—get up early morning the next day, take bath and break your fast.
Beej Mantra for Lord Shiva Panchakshari Mantra
ॐ नमः शिवाय
ॐ वन्दे देव उमापतिं सुरगुरुं, वन्दे जगत्कारणम् l
वन्दे पन्नगभूषणं मृगधरं, वन्दे पशूनां पतिम् ll
वन्दे सूर्य शशांक वह्नि नयनं, वन्दे मुकुन्दप्रियम् l
वन्दे भक्त जनाश्रयं च वरदं, वन्दे शिवंशंकरम् ll
The Maha-mrityunjaya mantra
ॐ त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम् ।
उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान् मृत्योर्मुक्षीय मा ∫ मृतात् ।।
Dwadasa Jyotirlinga stotra
द्वादश ज्योतिर्लिंग स्तोत्र
सौराष्ट्रे सोमनाथं च, श्रीशैले मल्लिकार्जुनम् ।
उज्जयिन्यां महाकालं ॐ कारममलेश्वरम् ॥
परल्यां वैधनाथ च, डाकिन्यां भीमशंकरम् ।
सेतुबन्धे तु रामेशं, नागेशं दारुकावने ॥
वाराणस्यां तु विश्वेशं, त्र्यंबकं गौतमीतटे ।
हिमालये तु केदारं, धुश्मेशं च शिवालये ॥
ऐतानि ज्योतिर्लिंगानि, सायंप्रात: पठेन्नर ।
सप्तजन्मकृतं पापं स्मरणेन विनश्यति ॥
Remember to celebrate Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati's wedding—immerse in the festive mood and chant 'Bam Bhole'! Time for some mystique to keep the soul alive and reverberating.