Worshipping Lord Shiva and observing fast on this occasion blesses the devotee with grace of the Lord…
Lord Shiva is one of the Hindu trinity of gods’ viz. Brahma Vishnu and Maheshwara (Lord Shiva). Lord Brahma is the creator, Lord Vishnu maintains the creation and Maheshwara or Lord Shiva brings about transformation or dissolution for commencing a new phase of life.
Lord Shiva is known by many names and some popular ones are given below with their meaning:
|Name of Lord Shiva||What does it Mean?|
|Maheshwara||Lord of the Gods|
|Ashutosh||One who instantly fulfils wishes|
|Bholenath||Kind hearted Lord|
|Kailashnath||Master of mount Kailash|
|Vishveshwara||Lord of the Universe|
Significance of Mahashivratri
There are many legends and beliefs with which the festival of Mahashivratri is linked:
♣ As per one legend the Devatas (good deities) and Asuras (demons) untidily churned up the celestial seas. As a result of this churning along with various precious things like gems and a pot full of nectar there was also a pot full of poison.
Devatas and Asuras were eager to drink the mortifying nectar,r but no one was ready to drink the poison.
Lord Shiva realised that leaving the poison as such would always remain a looming danger over the good beings of this world, so he drank the poison and held it in his throat. Because of this his throat turned blue and he was since then also known by the name Neelkantha (Neel means blue and Kantha means throat).
So the Mahashivratri or the great night of lord Shiva is for paying him homage for his great sacrificial act, which saved the good being.
♣ As per another belief the absolute and formless God viz. Sadashiv materialised in the form of ‘Shivalinga’ (phallic shaped structure) on the night of the 14th lunar date during the dark phase of the lunar month of Phalgun, which is therefore celebrated as Mahashivratri. So the Shiva devotees keep a fast and stay awake on this night and worship shivalinga.
♣ Still another belief is there according to which Lord Shiva the formless or Nirgun Brahma married his consort Parvati on this night. In other words He manifested as Sagun Brahma by uniting with the Mayavic negative force Parvati just to please His devotees who desired to see Him in some shape.
Importance of Keeping Fast on MahaShivratri
As per the Shiva Purana keeping fast over Mahashivratri blesses the devotee with grace of Lord Shiva. One can keep either a complete fast or a partial one depending upon one’s health and age.
Keeping a fast with sincerity also frees the devotee from Tamas Guna which is the root cause of ignorance and inaction. Fast and worship on this occasion helps in controlling the Rajas Guna which is the root cause of greed, jealousy and possessiveness. Thus Mahashivratri fast balances the three gunas so that Satva Guna or the quality of righteousness can ultimately emerge and prepare the devotee for emancipation (Moksha).
On the Mahashivratri day in the morning before sunrise take bath and after worshipping Lord begin your fast after eating non-cereal satvik diet.
Some devotees observing fast consume a mid-day meal consisting of non-cereal food such as curry of boiled potatoes without onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric.
Some devotees have only a fruit diet and drink lots of water.
On this day in the evening it is recommended that the devotee should take again a bath and then perform pooja and visit Shiva temple if desired.
No food should be eaten after the sunset.
Stay awake during the night and keep worshipping the lord. The devotee should break the fast on the following morning after taking a bath.
Important Points Regarding Worship on Mahashivratri…
As per the scriptures the following points are to be observed for Mahashivratri worship in order to receive Lord’s blessings:
(1) While worshipping the Shivalinga the devotee should bathe it with water, fresh un-boiled milk and then honey, ghee and curd and then with water mixed with some water from Ganges (Gangajal).
(2) After bathing the Shivalinga as above apply paste of vermillion which signifies virtue, and offer bel leaves as these represent purification of one’s soul.
(3) Then offer fruits for longevity and realization of desires.
(4) Burn a thick stick of good quality incense for receiving blessings in the form of wealth.
(5) Light a Deepak (Lamp) with ghee for attainment of knowledge and wisdom.
Article by: Jyotirvid Pawan Kumar