Shivratri 2023 Importance – Puja – Complete Guide on Maha Shivaratri in 2023

The significance of Shivratri is closely associated with ‘amavas’ – the no moon night or full dark night as per traditional Hindu Calendar. Amavas symbolically represents Kaliyuga or spiritual ignorance. Lord Shiva appeared just before the beginning of Kaliyuga to rid the world of evil and ignorance. Therefore Shivratri is celebrated to get rid of evil and ignorance.

On the Shivratri day, Lord Shiva is worshipped in a special form of Linga called ‘Lingodbhavamurti.’ It is a lingam in the form of fire which has neither a beginning nor an end. It must be noted here that ‘linga’ means ‘sign.’ And it is merely an attempt to capture the formless or Brahman.

There are numerous legends and myths associated with Shivratri, which is mainly found the Puranas associated with Shiva.

An important myth is that Shivaratri is the birthday of Lord Shiva – this is because the formless Lord Shiva appeared for the first time in the form of Lingodbhavamurti or Jyotirlinga before Lord Vishnu and Brahma.

Myth of Shivratri based on Vishnu and Brahma searching for the origin of Linga

Lord Vishnu and Brahma wanted to know who was superior and this led to a fight. Lord Shiva intervened and said whoever can find out the origin or end of Shivling is superior. Lord Shiva appeared before them in the form of a huge pillar of fire. Lord Vishnu went down searching and Brahma went up searching. Both traveled and traveled but never met the beginning or end.

After the futile search, Lord Vishnu and Brahma prayed to Shiva and appeared before them in the form of Jyotirlinga and this day of the appearance of Lord Shiva is celebrated as Shivratri.

The Story of Shivratri based on Samudra Manthan

This is a famous legend on Shivaratri and happened during the churning of ocean by Devas and Asuras to get ‘Amrit.’ While churning the ocean, highly toxic poison came out and Lord Vishnu asked the ‘devas’ and ‘asuras’ to approach Lord Shiva. He agreed immediately to help them and drank the poison. In order the poison to have no effect, Lord Shiva should not sleep. So the ‘devas’ and ‘asuras’ kept praying the whole night. Pleased with the devotion Lord Shiva said ‘whoever worships me on this day will get their wishes fulfilled.’

Maha Shivratri and the fall of ketaki flower

This myth is similar to the appearance of the Jyotirlinga legend. Brahma went up searching for the end of the Jyotirlinga and Vishnu went down. Brahma after traveling for a while saw a ketaki flower (screw pine) dangling down. He stopped his search and took the flower and returned to Lord Shiva. Vishnu too came back soon and expressed his inability to find the beginning. But Brahma said he found the ketaki flower atop the Jyotirlinga and ketki supported it. Lord Shiva became furious and cursed ketki flower that it will not be offered in worship.

The story of Shivratri based on hunter unknowingly dropping Bilva leaves on Lingam

There once lived a tribal hunter who was a Shiva devotee. One day he lost his way while hunting and was trapped in the forest at night. Soon wild animals started to gather around him and he climbed a Bel or Bilva tree. In order to keep himself awake, he started plucking Bilva leaves and dropped it down repeating ‘Om Namah Shivaya.’ In the morning, he discovered that he had been dropping the leaves on a Shivling. And the word spread that he was saved by Lord Shiva. People started celebrating the day as Shivratri. The story is mentioned in Mahabharata by Bhishma while on the bed of arrows. The hunter was born as King Chitra bhanu who could remember his previous births. And he discussed the importance of Shivaratri with a sage.

Shivratri Puja and Fasting

Shivratri puja and fasting begins with the sunrise on the Chaturdashi day.

It is a complete fast on the day and people keep vigil at night or spend time in Shiva Temples or at sacred spots associated with Lord Siva.

At home, one should keep chanting the mantra ‘Om Namah Shivaya.’ If you have a Shivling you can offer water to it.

Shiva is worshipped on the day with bilva leaves, datura, flowers, rice, water, milk, and panchamrut (milk, curd, ghee, sugar and honey). Lord Shiva is worshipped throughout the night.

The main puja is held at midnight.

The next day morning a sacrifice is performed with barley, sesame, porridge, bilva leaves and the fasting is completed. This is performed at temples and in sacred places.
At homes, people offer bilva leaves and water to Lord Shiva and end the vow with prayers.

Food That Can Be Eaten During Shivratri Fasting

Food Eaten on the Shivratri Day

  • Most devotees go for a fruit diet and drink lots of water.
  • Since it is a long fasting many people consume a special meal known as ‘phalar.’
  • Some people consume a mid-day meal consisting of non-cereal food such as boiled potatoes which is made into a curry without onion, garlic, adarak or haldi. 
  • Another food eaten on the day is pakora or Kuttu Singhare ki puri.
  • No meal is eaten after sunset.
  • Next meal is taken on the morning of Amavasya (next day morning) after doing puja and giving alms.

Mantras to be Chanted on Shivratri

Some of the important mantras that are chanted on the day include: 

  • Shiva Panchakshari Mantra (Om Namah Shivaya) 
  • Chanting the sacred names of Lord Shiva
  • Mahamrityunjaya Mantra etc. 
  • People also listen to Lingashtakam and Bilvashtakam.

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