MahaShiv Ratri 2022: Rituals & Mantras

shiv ratri 2022
Mahashivratri falls on the fourteenth date of the dark half in the month of Magha. In the English calendar, Shivratri falls somewhere in between the months of February and March.
Shiva is one of the Hindu trinity and represents the destructive aspect, with Brahma being the Creator and Vishnu- the Nurturer. The Great Night of Shiva honors Lord Shiva and is celebrated by His ardent devotees. This day marks the beauty and power of Lord Shiva. Shivratri is the night of the Adiyogi and thus, the best time to celebrate this festival is during midnight.
The customs and practices of Mahashivratri have profound spiritual significance. Let's see what the rituals are and how we can celebrate this Shiva Night to earn His infinite grace!

Fasting

Fasting is like giving your internal systems (especially the process of digestion) a good rest. Fasting will slow down your body system and help you reconnect with your inner wisdom. Fasting will prepare your mind and body for the higher worship of Shiva.
Fasting on Mahashivratri is a purification ritual. This ritual harmonizes our body, helps us establish control over our senses, and tunes our body to the Shiva tattva present in us.
Fasting on Mahashivratri does not necessarily mean going hungry for the whole day. Especially on Mahashivratri, fasting refers to the 'quality' of the food we take in.
  • The food must be light, pure, and sattvic in nature.
  • On this day, you may include milk, ghee, yogurt, vegetables, and fruits. You can also include potatoes, honey, ginger, and dates. Potatoes and dates will help you remain grounded while you do your spiritual practices as fasting is just the first step (and very important) of Mahashivratri rituals. You can also include nuts and seeds in your Upavasa meal on this day.
Note- The idea of fasting on Mahashivratri is to eat foods that will prepare our bodies for higher spiritual practices.

Mantra Chanting

Mantra chanting is among one of the major Shivaratri rituals. Shiva is one but his names and mantras are many. Mantra chanting helps us develop mental powers, improves our concentration, reduces stress, induces a positive attitude, and gives us access to higher spiritual realms.

Simple Mantras of Lord Shiva

  • You can read Shiva Sahasranamam.
  • Chant Aum Om Namah Shivay for 108 /1008 / 1080 times. Om Namah Shivay is a Panchakshar stotra. If 1008 times is not possible, then you can chant it as per your own capacity.
  • Reading Shiva Purana on this day is also very auspicious on this day.
  • Chant Rudrashtakam (this can be as per your own capacity). You can also listen to Rudrashtakam.
  • You can also recite the Eight names of Lord Shiva
    • Om Ishanaya Namah
    • Om Mahadevay Namah
    • Om Rudraya Namah
    • Om Sharvaya Namah'
    • Om Bhimaya Namah
    • Om Ugraya Namah
    • Om Pashupataye Namah
Note- Do not force yourself to chant mantras beyond your capacity. Shiva mantras are extremely powerful - so whatever mantra you choose, you must try chanting it will complete surrender and awareness.
Before you start chanting your chosen mantra, (if possible) practice Nadi Shodhana or Anulom Vilom Pranayama at least thrice- one round for the Ida Nadi, the second round for the Pingala Nadi, and the third round for the Maha or Sushumna Nadi.
The entire Shiva night is divided into four prahars. Prahar is a measure of time and each prahar is a fixed period of three hours. Together, the four prahars of the Shivratri make up for the twelve hours. Each prahar has its own set of elaborate rituals. However, it may not be possible for all of us to follow these elaborate rituals. But, doing simple rituals can also earn us the constant and divine grace of Lord Shiva.

Simple Rituals of Mahashivratri

  • Worship the Shivlinga- Besides fasting and mantra chanting, worshiping the shivling is another important and effective ritual of Mahashivratri. If you have a Shivlinga at home then you can worship that, or you may also go to the nearby Shiva temple.
  • If you have the Shivlinga in your house, then place the ling on the brass or copper plate.
  • First begin by offering water to the linga. According to Atharva Veda, water is the first door to attain the divine order.
  • Milk is sattvic and has purifying qualities. So after offering the water, you may then start with offering milk. The milk must be raw and preferably cow's milk.
  • After offering the milk, offer some water again to cleanse the linga.
  • After milk and water, you may then offer curd, ghee, and honey. These can be offered either in the form of a mixture or can be offered individually as well.
  • After offering ghee, honey and curd- again offer water to the linga and cleanse it.
  • Then wipe the ling with the fresh cloth and offer attar (perfume or fragrance), chandan, bhasma, bhang, datura (you can offer both the fruit and flowers) and bilva leaves. Bilva leaves are Lord Shiva's favorite- so you may offer either 21 or 108 bilva leaves. But again, do not be downhearted. It's absolutely not essential to have 21 or 108 bilva leaves- if you do it with the correct 'bhava', even one bilva leaf is enough to please Lord Shiva.
  • In the end, offer rice, black gingerly seeds, lotus leaves, barley, wheat, sunflowers, pomegranate, fried foods, various vegetable dishes, black gram, green gram, 7 cereals, flowers of Shankhpushpi, sweet dishes, and cooked rice.
Note- All these offerings are made according to the four prahars. But as mentioned earlier, if worshiping the linga is not possible according to the prahars, then one may offer all of these at once.
  • Offering these things have special significance on Mahashivratri, but what is more crucial is your concentration, purity, and surrender towards lord Shiva. So while you perform your offering rituals, constantly recite Om Namah Shivay in your heart and mind. It's the incessant chanting and total surrender that is enough to please this Lord of endless power.
  • In the very end, light a ghee lamp and perform the aarti.
Above were the things that one must try to offer Shiva linga on the night of Mahashivratri. But there are also things one must be careful to not offer to Mahadev.
  • Avoid offering turmeric and vermillion to lord Shiva (on Mahashivratri as well as otherwise).
  • Jalandhar was the demon king and Tulsi was his wife. Jalandhar was killed and Tulsi was created by Lord Vishnu. Angry, Tulsi cursed Lord Vishnu that he would turn into a stone. Lord Shiva blessed Tulsi that she will be the Queen of the Trees and will reside in Vaikunth to be with Vishnu. Tulsi later got transformed into the Gandaki River but is not used while worshiping Lord Shiva in any of His rituals.
  • Avoid offering broken rice to Lord Shiva.
Mahashivratri has different significance for different people. For some, it's his wedding night while for others- the dark hours of Shivratri mark His ascend into supreme meditation. The significance of Shivratri all depends on how we perceive Lord Shiv and how we wish to worship Him. Methods might vary and 'Bhavas' may vary even more. But, for all those who worship Lord Shiva wholeheartedly- He cures them of their sins and lifts their souls of karmic burdens.

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