The consortium of the Shiva and Parvati is a beautiful myth that is a reason enough for the followers of Shiva to observe a festivity. After all the pair is a representation of Ardhnarishwar, the basis of creation of life. The infinite power of Lord Shiva is honoured in form of many festivals, but Maha Shivratri holds prime importance amongst them all. Falling on the Chaturdashi Tithi of Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) of every lunar month, Masik Shivratri is the monthly celebration of the auspicious event. On this day, Shiva’s idol or Shivling is worshipped by the ardent devotees of Mahadev.
The Ceremonial in Various Regions:
The rituals involved on this day are very similar to the Maha Shivratri. Any person may observe fast on this occasion, however, it is believed that the festival is specially significant for the unmarried women. There is a faith that maiden girls get loving and worthy partners if they pray with true devotion on this day. The Upavas is kept throughout the day, and in the evening people bathe the Shivling which is called Abhishekam followed by night vigil. The chanting of Panchakshara Stotra (Om Namah Shivaya) holds special importance on Shivratri.
In some places, an additional ritual is observed by building a three-tier platform using wooden planks. Together they are meant to signify the Teen Lok – Patala Lok, Bhulok, and Swarg Lok. Then 11 Kalash indicating the forms of Lord Shiva are kept on the topmost platform (symbol of Swarg Lok). Bael leaves and Coconut are placed on the mouth of the Puja Patra or Kalash before placing them on plank. Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Jammu & Kashmir are the major states where this festival is marked with enthusiasm.
The Ritual of Shivling Abhishekam:
The most important aspect of the Puja performed on Shivratri is the Shivling Abhishekam which is done to appease the Lord Shiva. The Puja Samagri required for this purpose are as follows:
- Milk (unboiled), Gangajal, Coconut /Sugarcane Juice (or both) mixed together
- A sacred liquid prepared with honey, milk, ghee, curd and sugar, known as ‘Panchamrit’
- Rice grains, Sweets, Betel Nut, Betel Leaves, Coconut and other fruits, Dhatura and flowers for offerings
- Incense Sticks, Camphor, Diya, Sandal paste and aromatic oil
- Gangajal and Kusha
The first manifestation of Shivling is also associated with the occasion of Shivratri and so the structure, believed to be the divine symbol of Shiva is bathed with prayed with offerings and bathed with liquid for paying homage to the Supreme power and fulfiling various desires related to health, wealth and prosperity.