Shivaratri, or Mahashivratri, is the night of Shiva and one of the most auspicious days dedicated to Lord Shiva. The day and night is for devotion and prayer to Siva. Maha Shivratri is the day when prayers and worship are given more importance. There is no fun or merrymaking as in other Hindu festivals. Here is a simple method to perform Shivratri Puja.
Always remember that the origin of Shivratri is traced to a hunter who was an ardent Shiva Bhakta and in a critical situation he unknowingly washed a Shivalingam with his tears and unknowingly offered Bilva leaves. So what is important is devotion and not complicated rituals.
Requirements for Shivratri Puja
An image, picture or idol of Shiva. Or a Shivalingam.
Other normal puja items like lamp etc
Prayers for Shivratri
You can chant any one or more of the prayers dedicated to Lord Shiva or simply chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya.’
Fasting on Shivratri
Most people fast for the entire day. But if you are unable to keep fast for 24-hours, then you can always opt for a single vegetarian diet or fruit or juice diet. If you are under medications, don’t attempt to fast and take proper advice from your doctor, if you intent on fasting.
Time of Prayer during Shivratri
The entire day is dedicated to Lord Shiva. So you can start the prayers from the morning by visiting a Shiva temple. Most Shiva devotees start the prayers in the evening after 20:00 hrs and continue till 04:00 hrs in the morning. The reason is that Lord Shiva is believed to have appeared during this period in a form that the human eye can accommodate.
How to do Shivratri Puja?
Wake up early and take bath
Apply ash on the forehead.
Light a lamp before the Shiva idol
You can offer Bilva leaves.
If you have a Shivling, bathe it with water.
Bhasma or Ash is the tilak applied by Shiva devotees.
Fast all the day.
Remain silent and meditate.
Bathe in the evening and light a lamp
Offer Bilva leaves and bathe the Shivling with water.
You can offer Bilva leaves and bathe the Shivling as many times as you want. (You can details about an elaborate Shivling Puja here.)
If you plan to stay awake during the night, you can perform the puja at regular intervals and keep chanting Shiva mantras. or remain silent and meditate.
Most devotees visit a nearby Shiva temple and stay at night there worshiping Mahadeva.
The End of Shivratri Puja
You can complete the Shivratri puja at about 0500 hrs early morning. Perform bath and offer simple prayer and you can break your fast.