Shivaratri is great festival of convergence of Shiva and Shakti. Chaturdashi Tithi during Krishna Paksha in month of Magha is known as Maha Shivaratri according to South Indian calendar. However according to North Indian calendar Masik Shivaratri in month of Phalguna is known as Maha Shivaratri. In both calendars it is naming convention of lunar month which differs. However both, North Indians and South Indians, celebrate Maha Shivaratri on same day.
Vrat Vidhi – One day before Shivaratri Vratam, most likely on Trayodashi, devotees should eat only one time. On Shivaratri day, after finishing morning rituals devotees should take Sankalp(संकल्प) to observe full day fast on Shivaratri and to take food next day. During Sankalp devotees pledge for self-determination throughout the fasting period and seek blessing of Lord Shiva to finish the fast without any interference. Hindu fasts are strict and people pledge for self-determination and seek God blessing before starting them to finish them successfully.
On Shivaratri day devotees should take second bath in the evening before doing Shiva Puja or visiting temple. Shiva Puja should be done during night and devotees should break the fast next day after taking bath. Devotees should break the fast between sunrise and before the end of Chaturdashi Tithi to get maximum benefit of the Vrat. According to one contradictory opinion devotees should break the fast only when Chaturdashi Tithi gets over. But it is believed that both Shiva Puja and Parana (पारणा) i.e. breaking the fast should be done within Chaturdashi Tithi.
Shivaratri puja can be performed one time or four times during the night. The whole night duration can be divided into four to get four Prahar (प्रहर) to perform Shiva Puja four times.
Ratri First Prahar Puja Time = 18:21 to 21:26
Ratri Second Prahar Puja Time = 21:26 to 24:31+
Ratri Third Prahar Puja Time = 24:31+ to 27:36+
Ratri Fourth Prahar Puja Time = 27:36+ to 30:42+
Nishita Kaal Puja Time = 24:06+ to 24:56+
Devotees observe the fast of Maha Shivratri on the day before the Maha Shivaratri night. It can be either Trayodashi or Chaturdashi Tithi, as per Hindu Calendar. But, the thing, which is needed to be kept in mind is that the night should be of Chaturdashi Tithi.
As per Nirnaya Sindhu, Shivratri Vrat begins on the day prior to Shivaratri. On that day, devotees eat once in the entire day and then worship at the night of Chaturdashi. On the next day, devotees perform all the regular morning stuff i.e. bathing and worshiping Lord Shiva, and keep the fast for the entire day.
Significance Of Maha Shivaratri Vrat In 2016
In accordance with the Hindu Mythology, observing the fast on the day of Maha Shivratri is considered to be the most powerful among all other fasts. Tamas Guna, which signifies the quality of inertia and Rajas Guna, which signifies the quality of passionate activities; are the two natural forces that highly bother a human being. Mahashivratri Vrat (fast) enables a person to keep a control over both of them. It is believed that if a person worships Lord Shiva with complete devotion on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri, his actions get controlled and the negative thoughts like jealousy, anger and lust that comes up due to the 'Rajas Guna' gets controlled. By observing the fast of Maha Shivratri for the entire night, the person gets free from all the negativity that took birth by the 'Tamas Guna'.
The fast on Shivratri is considered to be the most auspicious one. One of the facts about Maha Shivaratri is that if a person observes fast on this day, he gets blessed with Lord Shiva's divine grace. While observing this Maha Shivaratri fast, most of the people go on a fruit and milk diet. But, some of the people don't even consume water for the entire duration of this Shivratri Vrat (fast). You don't have to get confused with what to eat during Maha Shivaratri Vrat in 2015. Just take the oath of observing this fast on the morning of Chaturdashi Tithi with full faith and devotion, and observe Maha Shivaratri Vrat in 2015 your way. Every year, this auspicious festival of Maha Shivratri is observed by millions of people with complete devotion and sincerity filled in their heart.
According to the traditions, people who observe fast on this day visit the Shiva Temple in the morning time and offer prayers to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The most essential part of the Maha Shivaratri is bathing the Shiva Lingam. On this day, devotees begin their fast by bathing the Shivling with Milk, Honey, Sugar, purified Butter, Kale Til (black sesame seeds), Ganga Jal (holy water of river Ganga) and some fresh flowers. After getting done with all this, devotees apply Chandan Tilak (sandalwood paste) with some rice on the Lingam. In addition to this, devotees also put some fresh flowers and fruits on the Shiv Lingam. They close their worship process after the recitation of Katha (religious legend) and doing Parikrama (circumambulating the idol of Lord Shiva). You must be wondering what the legend is. Obviously, you need to know that for completing your Maha Shivratri Vrat in 2015. So, here it comes...
Maha Shivaratri Legend
Maha Shivratri is associated with various legends by the devotees. However, the legend of the churning of milk ocean is considered to be the main one. So, here we are telling you the most popular legend of this holy day to help you complete your fast of Mahashivratri in 2015.
The 'churning of the milk ocean' or 'Samudra Manthan' was a detailed procedure to bring out Amrit (the elixir of immortality) out of the ocean of milk. In Samudra Manthan (churning of the milk ocean), Mount Meru, which is also known as mount Mandarachala, was used as the rod for churning; and the work of churning rope was done by the King of serpents, named 'Vasuki'. At the time of Manthan (churning), demons wanted to hold the front side of the snake and Lord Vishnu Wanted the demigods to hold the snake's tail side. Therefore, the demons got poisoned by the fumes that came out of the snake's mouth. But still, they pulled the snake's body in the back and forth motion. This motion came up with the rotation of mount Meru and ultimately the churning of ocean took place. After that, Lord Vishnu came up in the avatar of a turtle and saved the mountain from getting drowned into the ocean by taking up all its weight on his back.
This churning process made a lot of things to come out of the ocean, and one among those things was lethal poison. With this, the demons and gods got terrified, as the poison was extremely powerful that it could literally contaminate the entire ocean. In order to save the world, Lord Shiva consumed this poison and kept it in his throat, due to which his neck turned blue in color. This is the reason for which he was named as Neelkantha (the one who has blue neck). While the process of Samudra Manthan, Amrit (elixir of immortality) was one of the things that came out of the milk ocean, and it was the main thing that everyone desired for.
This is the Katha of Samudra Manthan and contribution of Lord Shiva in saving the world from that lethal poison. So, this was all we had on Mahashivratri in 2016. Utilize the best of this information on Shivaratri to make your Maha Shivratri in 2016most beneficial.
Happy Maha Shivaratri 2016!