Maha Shivratri 2018: Shivratri, literally, the night of Lord Shiva, occurs every 14th night of the new moon. However, it’s only once a year – in February or March – that Maha Shivratri is celebrated. Shivaratri is the festival of coming together of Shiva and Shakti. According to South Indian calendar, Chaturdashi Tithi during Krishna Paksha in month of Magha is known as Maha Shivaratri. In Drik Panchang, however, according to North Indian calendar Masik Shivaratri in month of Phalguna is known as Maha Shivaratri. In both calendars how lunar month is named differs. However, the entire nation celebrates Maha Shivaratri on same day.
Worship of Lord Shiva (Puja Vidhi):
According to Shiv Purana, Shiva Linga must be bathed with water, milk and honey. One can apply rose water, yogurt and sandalwood paste. Also, woodapple must be offered to the Lord, as it symbolises purification of the soul. One must apply vermillion paste after bathing the Linga, which symbolises virtue. After that devotees must offer fruit, which denotes longevity and fulfilment of desire. Then, an incense stick and a candle is lit to attain wealth and knowledge. However, devotees offer puja according to their beliefs and customs. 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. You can spend the entire night by chanting ‘Om Namah Shivaay’ and ‘Maa Parvati’s’ name.
Devotees, in general, maintain a strict custom of keeping fast the entire day. Firstly, people rise early in the morning, take a bath – often with sesame seeds, and wear traditional clothes. People must not consume even a grain of food. People generally maintain purity and devotion during this peiod. Devotees feel that commitment to the fast will lead to wish fulfillment or blessing from the Lord Shiva. It is suggested in the Hindu mythology that performing vrat on Mahashivratri helps one to achieve power over the two great forces that afflict man – rajas guna (quality of passionate activity) and tamas guna (quality of ignorance). You can break fast after waking up in the morning and taking a bath.