Rituals and Ceremonies of Lord Shiva

Various rituals and ceremonies related to Lord Shiva are celebrated every year in India. One of these is the Shivaratri Day celebrated on the thirteenth or fourteenth day of the Phalgun moon, which usually falls between February and March. This celebration is called as the “night of Shiva” where various rituals and ceremonies take place every night. It is a feast observed by Hindus to give honor to Lord Shiva. It is also the same day when Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati.

The Shivaratri Day started from the great mythical churning of the ocean known as the “Samudra Manthan” where a pot of poison emerged from it. Both gods and the demons were terrified of it because it might destroy the entire universe. They ran to Shiva for help and he swallowed the deadly poison to protect the universe. From here, the Shivaratri Day was born as it signifies on how Lord Shiva had saved the universe.

As part of the celebration of Shivaratri Day, Hindus observe a strict fasting that even a drop of water is not taken. All night, rituals and ceremonies involved vigils and worshipping. Throughout the night, Hindus will wash every three hours with rose water, honey, curd, or milk as the chanting of the Mantra continues. Offerings of bail leaves are made to the Lingam. Bail leaves are regarded to be very sacred because according to legends, Lakshmi resides in leaves. Shivalinga ritual baths are done by devotees mostly by women in various Shiva temples.

Part of the rituals and ceremonies for the Shivaratri Day is singing hymns to praise Lord Shiva. The hymns of Rayan’s Shiva Tandaya Stotra and Shiva Mahimna Stotra and the Mahimna Stotra of Pushpadanta are sung with great devotion and fervor. Any devotee who utters the names of Lord Shiva during the Shivaratri Day with perfect concentration and devotion is freed from all sins. He is able to reach the abode of Shiva and happily lives there. He is liberated from the wheel of deaths and births. During the Shivaratri Day, many pilgrims flock for the Shiva temples.

Waking up early in the morning of the Shivaratri Day is a tradition to most devotees as they take a ritual sunrise bath at the holy waters of Ganga River preferably. As part of the purification rite being observed for the Hindu festivals, devotees also offer prayers to Vishnu, the Sun God.

Puja items are part of the Shivaratri Day celebration. It plays many significant roles in most rituals and ceremonies of the celebration. The bathing of Shivalinga with honey and milk with added bail or wood apple leaves represents purification of the soul. After the ritual bath, the vermillion paste applied on the linga represents virtue. The offering of fruits symbolizes gratification of desires and longevity. The burning of license sticks bears wealth. The lighting of the lamp signifies achievement of knowledge. The offering of betel leaves denotes satisfaction.

Worship to Lord Shiva is continued throughout the night on Shivaratri Day celebration. The special worships and vigils are lead by priests as Lord Shiva is offered with special foods made from the coconuts, root vegetables, and fruits of the season.

Shivaratri Day festival celebration in India is marked with immense devotion, religious fervor, and colorful rituals and ceremonies. Hindus across the country celebrate the festival with enthusiasm.

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