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The 14th waning Moon during the Phalgun month (mid-Feb to mid-Mar) is observed as Maha Shivaratri — the night, which is special to Lord Shiva and very auspicious for receiving his abundant grace.
Maha Shivaratri is the ideal day when you can access the energies of Lord Shiva and receive his blessings to remove all kinds of karma and acquire new consciousness. The night provides scope for changing the repetitive patterns of thoughts that keep creating the same reality for you recurrently. Such a change that is spurred within can remove all obstacles that keep you stuck at any phase of life. Maha Shivaratri can thus, help in energizing and nurturing your body and mind with a new consciousness that offers a chance to create a new life, with new opportunities.
There are several mythologies associated with Maha Shivaratri.
Scriptures relate that Shiva prefers being worshipped in the form of Lingam on this special day. Devotees of Shiva enjoy the heartfelt pleasure they obtain on chanting the Panchakshari (5 letter) mantra “NA MA SI VA YA” throughout the Maha Shivaratri Pooja. While performing Abishekam (hydration Pooja) to the Lingam with milk, honey, butter, curd and rose water or holy water of the Ganges you should chant this mantra.
As Bilva leaf (leaf from wood apple tree) is considered very sacred to Shiva, offering him a sprig of this leaf and chanting the verses of Bilvashtakam (hymn highlighting the importance of offering Bilva leaves to Lord Shiva) on Maha Shivaratri is considered very auspicious. Subsequently, you can offer fruits and flowers to him.
Rudra Homa (fire prayer) can also be performed. In the Rig Veda, Rudra is mentioned as a mighty being, and the verses called Sri Rudram (Vedic hymn to Lord Rudra) is recited during the fire lab to invoke his energies that can drive away any negative emotions and enemies. Rituals of Maha Shivaratri are performed throughout the night for every three hours from 6 PM to 6 AM and are called 4 Kalas (power times).
The sound vibrations of the mantra “NA MA SI VA YA” are the sounds of the five elements:
These sounds help you harmonize with all the five basic elements of nature, which constitute every matter in the universe.
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According to Shiva Purana, fasting on Shivaratri is of utmost importance. A devotee who takes a vow to fast on Shivaratri should observe fast throughout the day and night. Fasting can also be observed by consuming only fruits. You should begin your fast after having a bath in the morning and the night and spend your time in praying to Lord Shiva, either in a temple or your house.
Worshipping Lord Shiva on Maha Shivaratri and observing a Vrat (fasting) can bestow the following benefits:
The sacred scriptures prescribe fire ceremony, Abishekam (hydration ceremony), Pooja/Archana (Light and Sound ceremony), Yantra and Mantra (special sounds) as the ways to offer your prayer to the divine. Out of these, fire ceremony is the most evolved spiritual technology on earth to connect with the divine beings. Participate in the remedial services to clear your karma and receive the blessings.