Lord Shiva once said, as recorded in the scriptures, that whoever worships his and Ma Parvati’s statue on Mahashivaratri and fasts will be dearer to him than his own son Kartik. The benefits that one gets from a mere glimpse of Lord Shiva are unmatchable.
Therefore, Lord Shiva’s devotees observe a strict fast on Mahashivaratri, with many people not even consuming a drop of water. Worshippers dutifully follow all the traditions and customs for the fast as they strongly believe that sincere worship of Lord Shiva on this auspicious day releases a person from all his sins and liberates him from the cycle of birth and death. As Shiva is regarded as the ideal husband, unmarried women pray for a husband like him, while married women pray for the well being of their husbands.
Devotees wake up early in the morning on Mahashivaratri, and after taking a bath and wearing fresh clothes, they visit the nearest Shiva temple, to give a ritual bath to the Shiva Lingam (with milk, honey, water, etc.). The worship continues the whole day and night. The next morning, devotees break their fast by partaking the prasad offered to Lord Shiva. Chanting of “Om Namah Shivaya” continues throughout the day and night. Belva leaves are continuously offered to the Lingam. Hymns of Lord Shiva are sung with great devotion.
Here are the methods prescribed for observing a fast and worshipping Lord Shiva on Mahashivaratri:
|First Quarter||Til (Sesame Seeds), Jav, Lotus, Belvapatra|
|Second Quarter||Fruit of Vijora, Lemon, Kheer|
|Third Quarter||Til, Wheat, Malpua, Pomegranate, Kapur|
|Fourth Quarter||Udadh dhal (white lentils), Jav, Moong, Shankhpushpi leaves, Belva-patra and Pakodas (fries) of Udadh|