Mahashivratri 2022: Practices & Rituals•
Posted on February 28 2022
The term Mahashivratri translates to The Great Night of Shiva. This is a very significant and auspicious day in Hinduism. Shivratri is celebrated on the day just prior to the new moon or the fortnight of each lunar month. Thus, there are twelve Shivratris in a calendar year. Among them, the Shivratri that comes between February and March is the most significant and is celebrated as Mahashivratri. It is believed that an individual experiences elevated energy levels. Hindus stay up overnight to utilize this extra energy properly.
People who live as a family celebrate Mahashivratri as the day Lord Shiva married Maa Parvati. On the other hand, ascetics consider this day to be the day the lord merged with Mount Kailash and became absolutely still without any movement. To them, Mahashivratri is considered as the night of stillness. In 2022, this day is celebrated on March 1.
Read on to know more about the practices and rituals observed on the occasion of Mahashivratri.
Devotees wake up early in the morning and have a bath before proceeding to do a pooja in honour of Lord Shiva in their homes or go to a Shiva temple. They add a bit of Ganga jal to the water if possible. Those who stay near the Ganges have a bath in the river itself.
In temples, pujaris or purohits perform special pujas for Mahadev. The Shivalinga is bathed with the panchamrit mixture containing ghee, milk, sugar, yogurt and honey. The puja is done amidst repeated ringing of the temple bell and chanting of the Om Namo Shivaya mantra and other Shiva mantras. The pooja and rituals are performed every three hours. A special Rudrabhishek pooja is performed at night and the vibrations produced by the mantra chants during this time fill the surrounding areas with positive energy. Ghee lamps, dhoop sticks, fruits, sweets, bel patra, unbroken rice grains and betel nuts are some offerings made for this puja. Some devotees spend the whole night awake in the temple premises praising Lord Shiva through devotional songs.
Staunch devotees of Lord Shiva opt for a whole day fast on Mahashivratri. They break the fast only the following day after a bath and having a little of the prasad that has been offered to the deity. Worshippers who wish to observe the fast but are not able to do so for some reason or the other fast the whole day and break the fast in the evening after a Shiva pooja at home or a visit to a nearby Shiva temple. Some of them have only fruits and liquids throughout the day. They consider the fast as a test of their own determination and a means to seek blessings of the lord. It is important to observe the fast with a clear mind.
A drink called thandai is prepared on this day and consumed by ascetics on this day. This drink is made using bhang, milk and almonds. It is supposed to be the favourite drink of Lord Shiva in ascetic form.
Hindus consider Mahashivratri as an important and auspicious day for several reasons. They consider that praying to the lord with utmost devotion on this day will help them to be liberated from their bad karmas or sins of the past. It is also said that worshipping Lord Shiva on this day helps in attaining moksha or freedom from the birth and death cycle. Married women are of the belief that they will be bestowed with an affluent family life and marital bliss while unmarried ladies believe that they will be blessed with ideal life partners like the lord.
Mahashivratri is represented as a night for introspection and self-reflection. The day also focuses on letting go of things that serve as an obstruction to an individual’s success. The celebration style differs across the country. While the celebrations take place during the day in some states, the people of some other states celebrate Mahashivratri with poojas through the night.
Written by Deepthi K