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Shiv Raatri-2-Vrat

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Shiv Raatri-2-Vrat and Poojaa
See also   Shiv Raatri Vrat Kathaa

Why do we Celebrate Shiv Raatri?
There are three stories which are associated with this special day:

(1) Once Aadi Shakti Paarvatee Jee asked Lord Shiv which Vrat and day was the best in terms of giving maximum Punya and his blessings. So Lord Shiv himself revealed about this auspicious day.
(2) On this day Shiv manifested his great and also the first ever Jyotirmaya form (Anal-skand) of Lord Shiv in front of Lord Vishnu and Brahmaa Jee. Lord Shiv is the Sa-Gun Roop of that Jyotirmaya Form.
(3) On this day there was also supposed to have been the marriage of Lord Shiv with Aadi Shakti.
(4) The story of the hunter on Mahaa Shiv Raatri day is the spiritual journey of you and me.

People observe a strict fast on this day. Some devotees do not even take a drop of water for 24 hours. They keep vigil all night. The Shiv Ling is worshipped throughout the night by pouring milk, curd, honey, rose water, etc, every three hours, whilst the chanting of the Mantra "Om Namah Shivaaya" continues. Offerings of even a few Bilva Patra (Bel leaves) are made to the Shiv Ling. Bel leaves are very sacred, as it is said that Lakshmee resides in them. He who utters the names of Shiv during Shiv Raatri, with perfect devotion and concentration, is freed from all sins.

Mantra and Stotra to Recite on Shiv Raatri?
The one who recites his name will not fear death.
"shiveshaanaam mahaadevam vaamadevam sadaashivam |
namaami shirasaa devam kim no mrityu karishhyati ||"

Jai Shiv Omkaaraa, Prabhu Jai Shiv Omkaaraa,
Brahmaa Vishnu Sadaashiv ardhaangee dhaaraa

Lord Mrityunjaya Mahadev is the winner of death. Meditate and worship on Mrityunjaya Mahaadev you can escape from miseries and troubles of this materialistic world as well as the problems related to inner soul. He devours / dispels our troubles, tensions, stress as well as our ego.

Mahaa Mrityunjaya THE BEING who allows us to conquer death, death of emotions, fears, wrong doing, Karm Dosh, evil effects or words and evil eye. Through his worship, Saadhanaa and meditation one can banish the fear of death forever from one's life. This is why Maarkandeya Rishi sang -
"Chandrashekhar Maashraye Mam Kim Karishyati Vai Yamah"    means
"When I am in the protection of Lord Chandrashekhar then how can Yam, the Lord of death harm me."

Yam Dev or Death is the greatest warrior of nature who does not know defeat. Though one cannot predict or control death, it is considered possible to influence the ticking of life with the reminiscence of Mahaa Mrityunjaya. For this reason Mritunjaya Mahaadev gave Yog Sootra to Maharshi Patanjali. Read about HIM, immerse yourself in HIS love, let the tears flow from HIS separation. Meditate on the Name, worship the Name, and through the Name, you shall be absorbed in intuitive peace and poise.

The hymn glorifies Lord Shiv, as the universal supreme force in the earth. In the Yajur Ved "Rudra Prashn" is the most important component whereas in the Panchaakshar Mantra "Om Namah Shivaaya" is more important. Chanting of the Rudram in rhythm, purifies the entire atmosphere and wipes out distress in our lives.

"Rudra Japam" is able to wipe out all our sins and mistakes and acts as a "Praayashchit" (repentance). "Shree Rudram" is also called as "Rudra Upanishad" and "Shat Rudreeyam". In "Rudram", there are 11 Anuvaak. After every chant of Rudram another hymn, "Chamakam" is also chanted. The hymn identifies 346 desires of human beings to be fulfilled, to have a peaceful daily life.

Chant the Mantra "Om Namah Shivaaya" entire day and practice Dhyaan for longer periods than the usual routine. Remain more introvert on this day contemplating about the truths of life. And have Darshan of Lord Shiv where He is properly and regularly worshipped.

Shiv Raatri
Fast is considered to be the most important fast for the devotees of Lord Shiv. Shiv Puraan goes on to say that if a devotee observes Shiv Raatri Vrat with sincerity, pure devotion and love he is blessed with the divine grace of Lord Shiv. Every year devotees observe Mahaa Shiv Raatri fast with devotion and sincerity. Though many go on a diet of fruits and milk, some do not consume even a drop of water all through the day and night of Shiv Raatri Festival.

Merits of Mahaa Shiv Raatri Vrat
According to Hindu mythology, observance of Mahaa Shiv Raatri Vrat with discipline helps a devotee to control the two great natural forces that afflict a man, Raajas Gun (the quality of passionate activity) and Taamas Gun (the quality of inertia). When a devotee spends an entire day in the Feet of Lord and worships with sincerity, his motion is controlled and evils like lust, anger and jealousy, born of Raajas are ignored and subdued. Besides, when a devotee observes vigil throughout the night (Jaagaran) he manages to conquer the evils of Taamas Gun too. It has also been mentioned that when a devotee observes a round of worship every three hours, the Shiv Raatri Vrat becomes perfect.

Devotees of Lord Shiv believe consider Shiv Raatri fast to be extremely auspicious and rate it equal or more than performing an Ashwamedh Yagya. Some believe that a devotee who observes a Shiv Raatri fast with sincerity and utters the name of Lord Shiv with perfect devotion is absolved from all sins. Such a devotee reaches the abode of Lord Shiv and lives there happily. He is also liberated from the cycle of birth and death.

Customs and Traditions of Shiv Raatri Fast
As a tradition, devotees who are on a strict fast on Shiv Raatri take bath with the water that is boiled with black sesame seeds to wash away bodily impurities. After putting on fresh new clothes, a devotee visit the nearest Lord Shiv temple to perform the ritual Shiv Ling bath with milk, honey etc. While bathing the Lingam a devotee prays, "O Lord ! I will bathe Thee with water, milk, etc. Do Thou kindly bathe me with the milk of wisdom. Do Thou kindly wash me of all my sins, so that the fire of worldliness which is scorching me may be put out once for all, so that I may be one with Thee-the One alone without a second."

Following the sacred bath, devotee applies Haldee-Kumkum on the Lingam and place a garland of white and pink lotus flowers on it. Bel leaves are also placed at the top of the Lingam. Aaratee and Bhajan in praise of Lord Shiv are also sung to invoke his blessings. Devotee also light incense stick and ring temple bell to invoke the blessing of the large-hearted Lord Shiv.

It may be noted that unlike most other festivals, where after performing the Poojaa of the deity a feast follows, a Shiv Ratri fast continues all through the day and night. Devotees observe an all night vigil while chanting the mantra, "Om Namah Shivaaya" and singing devotional hymns and songs. Even during the night, Shiv Ling is given the holy bath every three hours. An offering of fruits is also made to the Deity. There is also the tradition to listen to the recital of various legends and stories related to Shiv Raatri and Lord Shiv and to understand its deeper meanings. It is only in the following morning that a devotee breaks the fast by consuming the Prasaad offered to Lord Shankar.

Shiv Raatri-Poojaa
See also   Shiv Raatri Vrat Kathaa

Following the method prescribed in Shiv Puraan, priests perform ritual Poojaa of Shiv Ling every three hours all through the day and night on Mahaa Shiv Raatri Festival day. During this Poojaa, chants of Om Namah Shivaaya and sounds of bells reverberate in the temple. Following the bath with milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar and water that helps in the purification of the soul a vermilion paste is applied on the Ling as it represents virtue. These six items form an indispensable part of Shiva Raatri, be it a simple ceremony at home or grand ceremony at temple worship.

After this, Bilva leaves, which have to be a stalk with three leaves, is kept on top of the Shiv Ling to cool the hot-tempered deity. Ber or jujube fruit is also offered to Shiv, as it is symbolic of longevity and gratification of desires. Some devotees also offer the auspicious betel leaves to Shiv marking satisfaction with worldly pleasures. Garlanding of Ling with flowers and garlands is also a part of the ritual Shiv Raatri Poojaa. Devotees also burn incense sticks as is said to yield wealth. Many also light lamps to symbolize attainment of knowledge. It is said that by offering water, hugging the Ling, lighting the Diyaa and incense and ringing the temple bells, devotees call into focus all their senses, making them acutely aware of themselves and the universe to which they belong.

This ritual worship of Shiv continues through the day and night of Shiv Raatri. Devotees stay awake and spent the night in Shiv temples by chanting ‘Om Namah Shivaaya’ and singing hymns and verses in praise of Shankar. Devotees observing Vrat on Shiv Raatri break it only the next morning by partaking Prasaad offered to Shiv.

A Simple Shiv Raatri Poojaa
Shiv is an ascetic and several religious stories and dramas portray that all attempts to distract Him from that principal pursuit through temptations always ended up with disaster for those initiating such an effort. Thus Kaam, the Lord of Desires, who tried such a distraction was burned alive through the fire when Shiv opened His third eye.

--First and foremost begin with cleansing, i.e. clean the area where the altar is to be set up. This should face the eastern direction if possible. You and others who will participate in the performance of the Poojaa should bathe, and wear clean and comfortable clothes. Men may wear Kurtaa / Pajaamaa combination, or Dhotee / Uttareeyam combination with or without a Kurtaa /shirt/ jibba etc. If men wearing Dhotee decide to wear no upper garment, then a Yagyopaveet should be worn.
--A small bench or a wooden table or a cardboard box covering an area no larger than 36" x 24" and about 15" to 24" tall is adequate. The size can vary if you wish to arrange more or fewer pictures and/or statues on the surface. Remember that you should be able to see the items on the altar and have easy access to make offerings during the worship.
--Place the table (or box) against a wall, cover it with a clean cloth, preferably white, and secure the same by tucking it under so that it won't slip off easily. Tape it if necessary such that the tape is not visible. Now arrange a picture of the God / Goddess to be worshipped, preferably at least an 8.5"x 11" size such that it makes about 10 to 15 degrees to the vertical and leans against the wall.
--Similarly pictures/statues of the family Godhead and Guru must also be arranged on the altar. Prepare one or two lamps with cotton wicks soaking in oil. Place the lamp/s about 6" in front of the picture if it is one lamp, or about 10" apart if two lamps.
--Do not light these until you are ready to begin the Poojaa. Prepare a worship plate (stainless steel, silver or any other metal, 12" to 24" diameter) by placing on it small vessels (cup-like, preferably metallic) of kumkum, turmeric, one packet of camphor, sandal paste, a dozen Agarbatti sticks (incense sticks), and a match box.
--Before starting the Poojaa proper, it is essential to contemplate Mahaaganapati to assure ourselves that no obstacles interfere with a smooth performance of the Poojaa rituals. Thus, with folded hands chant the following:
Karishyamaanasya karmanaha nirvighnena Parisamaaptyartham
Aadhau mahaaganapati smaranam karishye

So that the ceremonies we are about to undertake proceed to completion without any obstacles we contemplate on Mahaaganapati Similarly the Griha Devtaa, i.e. the family Godhead, needs to be invoked as He/She is ever present bestowing protection to the family at all times. Chant as follows:
Griha devataam dhyaayaami,  Ddhyaanam samarpayaami

In order to assure ourselves that any and all evil tendencies are removed from the worship room, we start with a prayer to Shiva whose very invocation is believed to clear out any troubling vibrations.
Om namah pranavaarththaaya,  shuddh gyaanaika moortaye
nirmalaaya prashaantaaya,  dakshinaamoortaye namah

I salute the Lord of the Southern direction who is the very embodiment of the sacred symbol Om and of pure knowledge and eternal peace.
At this point someone familiar with the proper intonations of that powerful bhajan Brahmamuraarisuraar Chitta lingam, could lead the assembled.

Then recite Shiv Panchaakshar Stotra (Naagendra Haaraaya....)

Rituals of Shiv Raatri Poojaa
As per Shiv Puraan, Shiv worship must incorporate the below:
Bathing the Shiv Ling with water, milk and honey, and Wood apple or Bel leaves added to it, representing purification of the soul.
The vermilion paste applied on the Shiv Ling after bathing it, representing virtue.
Offering of fruits, which is conducive to longevity and gratification of desires.
Burning incense, yielding wealth.
The lighting of the lamp which is conducive to the attainment of knowledge.
And betel leaves marking satisfaction with worldly pleasures.

The Shiv Raatri Poojaa normally performed on the day in the following timings:-
Raatri First Prahar Poojaa Time : 18:30 pm to 21:33 pm
Raatri Second Prahar Poojaa Time : 21:33 pm to 00:36am
Raatri Third Prahar Poojaa Time : 00:36 am to 03:40 am
Raatri Fourth Prahar Poojaa Time : 03:40 am to 06:43 am

Devotees worship the Ling throughout the night. It is bathed every three hours with the 5 sacred offerings of a cow, called the Panchagavya - milk, sour milk, urine, butter and dung.
Then the 5 foods of immortality - milk, clarified butter, curd, honey and sugar are placed before the ling.
We should do Abhishek
-- with juice of sugarcane for Lakshmee
-- with honey for money,
-- with milk for son,
-- with continuous pouring of water to remove trouble from our life.
-- with ghee for progeny,
-- with mustard oil, for enemy trouble and
-- with Gangaa water for Moksh.

Dhatooraa fruit and flower, though poisonous, are believed to be sacred to Shiv and thus are offered to him.
Wearing a rosary made from the Rudraaksh when worshipping Lord Shiv is ideal as it is His favorite.

List of Materials for Poojaa
Picture of Shiv
Table, bench or box
Two stainless steel or silver vessels
Uddharan or metal spoon
Pieces of clean cloth to put on the altar
A piece of clean string (symbolic Yagyopaveet)
Kumkum, Haldee and cups to hold them
Akshat (uncooked yellow rice) in a cup
Sandal paste
Agarbattees, camphor
Fresh flowers, fruits, coconut, leaves, fruit juice
Lamps with wicks soaking in oil or ghee
Aaratee plate with oil soaked wicks
Naivedyam (Prasaad).

Shiv Raatri Vrat
There is a conflict of views about what should be the chief thing in Shiv Raatri. The Tithi Tattwa holds that a fast is the principle thing in Shiv Raatri and relies on the words of Shankar : "On that Tithi (Shiv Raatri) , I am not so pleased with bath (on the Ling), nor with clothes again (offered to the Ling) nor with incense, nor by worship, nor with the offering of flowers, as I am pleased by a fast." On the other hand, Hemaadri and Maadhav hold that Shiv Raatri means fast, worship and Jaagaran and all the three are apprehended as principal and quote passages from the Skand Puraan (Naagar Khand) in support - "The man who observes a fast on Shiv Raatri for 12 years who keeps awake (in dance and music) before me the whole night would reach heaven that man, who worships Shiv and performs Jaagaraa on the 14th, would not there after taste milk at mother's breast (i.e would not be born again); the Nishaad, unknowingly worshipping a self-existent Ling an observing a fast and Jaagaran, became free from sin and attained the position of the attendant of Shiv."

Shiv Raatri Vrat is both Nitya (obligatory) and Kaamya (optional). It is Nitya, because there are passages which lays down that sin follows if a man does not perform it.... The Vrat is optional, because the texts provide the rewards of performing this Vrat.

The proper time for this Vrat is night. Since, as started in the Skand Puraan, 'goblins, the Shakti and Shiv (who wields the Trident) move about at night and therefore these are to be worshipped at that time on Chaturdashee. The Skand Puraan provides: "a fast should be observed on that Chaturdashee of the dark half that is joined in Nisheeth (i.e. that exists at that time); the Tithi is the best and leads to companionship with Shiv." Hemaadri quotes Skand Puraan, Naagar Khand as follows - "On the 14th of the dark half of Maagh month, I shall go in the Kali Yug on the surface of the Earth at night and not by day. I shall undoubtedly transfer myself to all Ling, whether movable or permanently fixed for the removal of the sins committed by man in the (proceeding) year; therefore the man who offers worship to me at night with these Mantra will be free from sin."

In the Eeshaan Sanhitaa, it is said - "The first God (Shiv) appeared in the form of Shiv Ling, whose refulgence was equal to that of crore of Suns, on the 14th of Maagh dark half. The Tithi to be accepted for the Shiv Raatri Vrat should be one that covers the time. A man should perform this on that Tithi when the 14th covers the time before and after midnight."

Hemaadri also quotes a verse like this - "The 14th called Shiv Raatri that covers Pradosh should be accepted (for Vrat); one should observe a fast on that Tithi since there has to be a Jaagaran (in that Vrat) at night.

Yog of Shiv Raatri and Somvatee Amaavasyaa in 2013
This Yog falls when both the festivals, both related to Shiv, fall together. In 2013, they are falling together. On March 10, Sunday is Shiv Raatri and next day, on March 11, Monday is Somvatee Amaavasyaa. According to astrological calculations of Nakshatra, this Yog falls once in every 10 years - before this this Yog fell in 2003, and next time it will fall ion 2023. That is why this year this Yog is very auspicious as according to Koti Rudra Sanhitaa of Shiv Puraan, both days are very auspicious for worshipping Shiv. If one does Saadhanaa during these two days it gives special fruits.

Shiv Raatri is coming on Sunday with Dhanishthaa Nakshatra and Siddhi Yog, that is why this Sunday is very good for Saahanaa. Saadhanaa done in Dhanishthaa Nakshatra gives wealth and prosperity and Siddhi Yog is auspicious for women. Shiv Raatri, however, is self-Siddh Yog. While Somvatee Amaavasyaa is coming with Shattaarakaa Nakshatra and Saadhya Yog.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/05
Updated on 09/29/13