Maha Shivaratri is the oldest and most important festival of the Hindus. Hindus celebrate it every year with great pomp. It is believed that Lord Shiva, Parvati Devi wedding took place on this day and to mark and celebrate it, “Shivaratri” is observed.
Every month on Krisnachaturdasi day “Sivarathri” is observed it is called as “Masa Shivarathri”. Special pujas are performed to Lord shiva on this day, but once in a year in the month of “Magha” on Bahulachaturdasi day comes the Shivarathri which is called as “Maha Shivarathri”.
Shivarathri is celebrated to mark more than one event in history, Shiva Parvati Kalyanam (Marriage), Shiva Linga emerged, Shiva consumed the poison which emerged during the sagara manthan.
Almost everyone does Shiva darshan, shiva pooja, rudrabhishekam, upvasa, jagarana.
“Shiva” represents Lord Shiva and “Rathri” represents Parvati, a combination between them is “Shivarathri”. In Hindu Puranas before shiva and Parvati, there is no event of marriage mentioned between any other god and goddess. So, Shiva and Parvati become “Adidampathulu” – first couple, and the day has become a prominent one for all.
Once Maha Vishnu and Brahma had a quarrel among themselves regarding who is superior and lord shiva took the form of “Linga” and enlightened them on this day. It is believed in the midnight of Magha Bahula chaturdasi this event took place so people do “jagaran” on this night and shiva Parvati kalyanam is performed.
“Abhisheka priyam shiva” Lord shiva is fond of abhishekam, he likes it very much when you perform abhishekam with water.
Water is the representation of Lord Narayana or Maha Vishnu, and all know that lord shiva likes lord maha Vishnu so performing abhishekam with water pleases Shiva.
“Shivaya vishnurupaya shivarupaya vishnave
shivasya hrudayam vishnur vishnoscha hrudayam shivah”
Abhishekam is performed with variety of things like milk, chandan, honey, etc.. but lord shiva likes “jalaabhishekam” as water is Ganga and Ganga start from the feet of maha Vishnu, so shiva placed Ganga on his head. Performing abhishekam everyday with Ganga is good, for who it is not possible should do it on maha shivarathri for which they get lot of punya.
after abhishekam shiva should be worshiped with “maredudalam” and “thumi” flowers.
“shivarathrou ahorathram niraharo jithendriyam |
archayedva yadanyayam yadabalam chakam ||
yatphalam mamama pujayam varshmekam nirantharam |
tatphalam labethe sadyam shivarathrou madarchanath ||
on shivarathri day one should fast all day and all night with a clean mind and conscience pray lord shiva for which shiva will bless you. this has been told by lord shiva himself to all the gods.
A day before shivarathri one should have food just once and sleep in a shiva temple, on the day of shivarathri wake up early take bath and visit shiva temple and perform pooja and abhishekam. In the night perform jagaran and keep reciting shiva matra. linga abhishekam during midnight is the must. keep reciting “Om Namah Shivaya”.
Bilva patra (Maredudalam) is best to perform pooja to shiva, it is equal to performing pooja to linga in ‘Kasi”. Bilva patra represents 3 gunas Satva, Rajo and Tammo, it also represents shiva’s three eyes and trishul. 3 leaves of bilva are trimurti’s shiva, vishnu and brahma.
Mythology tells us that when gods and demons performed sagara manthan to extract Elixir many things came out of which most dangerous was “halahalam” – poison and lord shiva consumed it and stored it in his neck and saved the world. after consuming poison gods and demons feared Shiva would slip into sleep and die so to keep him awake they started praying him and did it all night this way the concept of jagaran came into existence. One should keep reciting shiva mantra all night.