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शिव śivaशिव śivaशिव śivaशिव śivaशिव śivaशिव śivaशिव
ABOUT THE MOST AUSPICIOUS YOGA NIGHT
The celebration, the ceremony, the holy, the sadhana.
शिव śivaशिव śivaशिव śivaशिव śivaशिव śivaशिव śivaशिव
HOW TO CELEBRATE SHIVARATRI
– I find most people asking how to celebrate Shivaratri? –
Shivratri is the day when rituals and worship are given more importance. There is no fun or merrymaking as in other Hindu/Vedic festivals.
It is a day of renunciation and prayer. It is a day to realize the Brahman and cleanse ignorance. Lord Shiva appeared in the form of Jyotirlinga on this day. A lingam which had no end and beginning and it symbolizes Brahman.
It is said that one should practice non-violence on this day. Then are things like not to lie, strict brahmacharya, be compassionate etc. But these things should be practiced on all days. So one need not wait for Shivaratri to be compassionate.
Generally most people fast on Shivaratri day by uttering the panchakshari mantra – ‘om namah shivaya.’ Next is keeping vigil all night by worshipping Lord Shiva. Worshipping Shiva with Bilva leaves is considered highly auspicious.
If you have a Shivalinga at home you can keep on bathing it at night with milk, curd, sugar, honey and ghee. But I guess this would be hard for a devotee to do. So, simple water will do. Remember, Shiva accepts anything when given with utmost devotion.
If you are unable to observe fast or keep vigil during night, you can observe the day by chanting ‘om namah shivaya’.
– What is Mahashivaratri –
Shivaratri, or Mahashivaratri, is the night of Shiva and one of the most auspicious days dedicated to Lord Shiva. The day and night is for devotion and prayer to Siva. Maha Shivaratri is the day when prayers and worship are given more importance. There is no fun or merrymaking as in other Hindu festivals. Here is a simple method to perform Shivratri Puja.
Always remember that the origin of Shivaratri is traced to a hunter who was an ardent Shiva Bhakta and in a critical situation he unknowingly washed a Shivalingam with his tears and unknowingly offered Bilva leaves. So what is important is devotion and not complicated rituals.
– Requirements for Shivaratri Puja –
An image, picture or idol of Shiva. Or a Shivalingam.
Other normal puja items like lamp, etc.
Prayers for Shivaratri
You can chant any one or more of the prayers dedicated to Lord Shiva or simply chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya.’ (You can find details about Shivaratri Prayers and Mantras here)
– Fasting on Shivaratri –
Most people fast for the entire day. But if you are unable to keep fast for 24-hours, then you can always opt for a single vegetarian diet or fruit or juice diet. If you are under medications, don’t attempt to fast and take proper advice from your doctor, if you intent on fasting.
– Time of Prayer during Shivaratri –
The entire day is dedicated to Lord Shiva. So you can start the prayers from the morning by visiting a Shiva temple. Most Shiva devotees start the prayers in the evening after 20:00 hrs and continue till 04:00 hrs in the morning. The reason is that Lord Shiva is believed to have appeared during this period in a form that the human eye can accommodate.
– How to do Being Shivang Tripathiratri Puja? –
Wake up early and take bath
Apply ash on the forehead.
Light a lamp before the Shiva idol
You can offer Bilva leaves.
If you have a Shivling, bathe it with water.
Bhasma or Ash is the tilak applied by Shiva devotees.
– Why is God Shiva Worshipped in the Form of Linga or Lingam? –
The most popular form of worshipping Lord Shiva in Hinduism is in the Linga form. It is known as Shivalinga. The Linga symbol is an attempt to give form to the formless, referred as Supreme Being or Brahman in Hindu religion. When a Linga is installed on a Yoni, it represents the union of Shiva and Shakti – the beginning of creation.
Linga in Sanskrit means symbol or sign. One of the first uses of the term ‘linga’ in association with Shiva is found in the Shvetasvatara Upanishad – it says that Lord Shiva, the Supreme Being, has no linga (sign or symbol). In simple terms, it is impossible to define Brahman or that is a linga.
Now it is not possible for a common man to pray to Brahman which is beyond any characteristic. Human beings need a form to worship. In Sanatana Dharma, each individual has the freedom to define the Supreme Being or Brahman in the most convenient way he/ she is comfortable.
When our ancestors stood in crude nature, what bewildered him most would have been the regenerative method – his own and those of animals around him. This must also have been the time when he was looking to give an expression to the Supreme Power. It is only natural that the male reproductive organ appeared to him as the ideal symbol as it represented strength and regenerative power.
The worship of Linga is not exclusive to Hinduism. Menhirs and Phallus have been worshipped by many ancient societies.
The Mahabharata says ‘Know everything, which is male, to be Ishana, and all that is female to be Uma; for this whole world, animate and inanimate, is pervaded by these two bodies. Shiva’s divine Linga is worshipped by the Gods, seers, Gandharvas and Apsaras.’ (Chapter 7, section 20, verses 22)
The greatness of this form of Shiva is based on the fact that the children bear neither the lotus symbol of Brahma nor of Vishnu’s discuss…but one marked with the male and female organs, the linga and yoni, originated from Mahadeva and Devi (Chapter 13, section 19, verses 78)
Puranas and Epics in Hinduism narrate in detail why Shiva is worshipped in the form of linga. It is said that the Supreme Being appeared before Lord Brahma and Vishnu in the form of a ‘pillar of fire’, which had no end and beginning. It is one among the many symbols of Brahman. There are numerous other incidents in the Puranas including the famous Deodar forest incident in which the wives of saints are attracted to Shiva and he castrates himself and leaves the Linga on earth as his symbol.
Many of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu is known to have worshipped the Shivalinga including Lord Ram, Parashurama and Krishna. When the mind is clear and is without prejudices, we will realize that the Linga form of Shiva is the most innocent form of Brahman that our ancestors had realized. It is pure and they got it from pure nature. Many of the forms that we worship today are the reflections of our mind, which is corrupted by ego, society and education. It is not pure.
That is why many people mention that Linga worship is a crude method and they are ashamed of it. Many are comfortable with the beautiful form of Brahman – that includes the handsome human form of Shiva, Vishnu and other gods. There is nothing wrong in worshipping Shiva and Vishnu in the handsome form because Brahman can be worshipped in any form.
An ancient Greek philosopher had said that if horses were to worship a god it would have the shape of a horse. All attempt whether it is Linga, human form or animal form is an attempt to give form to the indefinable Brahman.
We then strongly defend that my form is the true form and the other form is wrong without realizing that everything is Brahman.
– So, what should I do at Mahashivaratri? –
. Fast all the day
. Remain silent and meditate.
. Bathe in the evening and light a lamp
. Offer Bilva leaves and bathe the Shivalinga with water.
. You can offer Bilva leaves and bathe the Shivalinga as many times as you want.
* You can details about an elaborate Shivalinga Puja here. If you plan to stay awake during the night, you can perform the puja at regular intervals and keep chanting Shiva mantras. or remain silent and meditate.
. On Maha Shivaratri, devotees wake up early in the morning and take a bath, if possible in river Ganga.
. After wearing fresh clothes, they visit the nearest Shiva temple, to give ritual bath to the Shiva Lingam (with milk, honey, water etc).
. The worship continues the whole day and whole night. Jagran (nightlong vigil) might also be observed in Lord Shiva temples, where a large number of devotees sing hymns and devotional songs, in praise of Lord Shiva.
* Most devotees visit a nearby Shiva temple and stay at night there worshiping Mahadeva.
. In the morning, devotees break their fast by partaking the prasad offered to Lord Shiva, after the aarti, the night before.
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