There are many other beliefs that are suggested by various experts and religious figures but these are the main things that should be kept in mind while worshipping the shivling.
Om Namah Shaivaya!!!
Secure in himself and with complete faith in humanity, Shiva does not resort to unnecessary cunning ways lesser beings employ. To him the intent and emotion displayed, behind an offering far supersedes the action. His existence as the supreme godhead, is repeatedly demonstrated, as each time a bunch of deceitful demons try to manipulate him, he extricates himself from their ruthless clutches & saves the worthy. Such is the infinite wisdom of the lord divine.
Once, Vishnu got the gods (Devas) & demons (Asuras) to churn out nectar or Amrita, the elixir of immortality from the ocean of milk( presumably an allusion to the milky way galaxy). The ocean gave them many worthy returns, which were quickly consumed by all of them. At the end of all these activities, the ocean ejected a large amount of venomous toxin so powerful that it had the potential to destroy all of creation. Rendered powerless against such a force all the gods & demons then had no option but to beseech the mighty Shiva, to come to their aid. Compassionate & powerful as he is he undertook the dreadful task of drinking the poison. Of course, at this point his protective consort, who felt he was being ill treated, came to rescue him, by squeezing his neck as he drank the poison, so that it couldn’t go beyond his throat. His neck turned blue, which is how he came to be called “Neelkantha.”
In another tale portraying his merciful and compassionate aspect, he demonstrates how the intensity of emotion & honest love of a devotee is what he protects and rewards. A young tribal called Tinnan, went against the grain & offered flowers from the forest, which he wore in his head, to the lingam, water from the mountain stream, which he held in his mouth & meat after carefully removing the bones. This, he continued to do while everyone else, offered the ritualistic best including milk, flowers, incense, ashes & fruits. To test the worthiness of his disciples, Shiva gave eyes to the lingam, one of which began to bleed. Fearful that this would portend evil, the worshippers fled the place. Tinnan stayed on and tried to stop the flow of blood. When he could not succeed, he cut his own eye and offered it to the lingam. Tinnan, was thus a chosen soul who was welcomed to Kailash.
Such is the magnanimity of the Lord of lords. He does not leave anyone’s prayers unfulfilled. Those who come with a genuine heart & forsake all material gains for his grace, find room in his abode, sooner or later. It takes nothing but sincerity & desire.
Of course, an intellectual analysis may be done to assess, the level of grace one receives. The obvious repartee to which is- grace descends in quantum abundance & equal force for all seekers. The crucial factor is how much is the recipient ready & open enough to experience. If the negativities of his mind block him & he clothes himself heavily in the cloak of materiality, he will not see, hear or experience, any divine wisdom because he does not seek it. No, there is anything wrong with that. Grace for such a person limits itself to things like familial ties, kinship, social acknowledgement, intellectual pursuits or purchasing power.
For one who dares to go beyond, one who shuns luxury for austerities to free himself from bondage altogether, grace descends differently. Often for one such individual, misery is grace, because it cuts down accumulation of negative Karma & releases the individual to higher realms, beyond mind & body.
Know that he, the Supreme Shiva, is always there for you. The real question is how much of him do you seek. As a divine sage once said, “When the seeker is sincere, the master appears”.
Obeisance, O divine master, Humble me so, I may always be absorbed in thee!
OM TAT SAT
The most famous celebration of Lord Shiva is the Maha Shivratri. It is the most important day of worshipping Lord Shiva and usually falls in the month of March. It falls on the moonless (amavasya) 14th night of the new moon in the month of Phalgun of the Hindu calendar. There are many legends associated with this particular festival. According to one of the legends it is believed that it was on the night of Shivratri that Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati got married. Another legend states that it was on this auspicious day that the Lord performed the ‘Tandava’, the dance of the creation, preservation and destruction. The day is considered very auspicious by the followers of Lord Shiva and hence the name Maha Shivratri which actually means the grand night of Shiva. Some experts believe that on Shivratri Lord Shiva became the ‘Neelkantam’ the one with the blue throat by swallowing the deadly poison ‘Halaahal’ that came up during the churning of the ‘Kshir Sagar’ or the milky ocean.
One of the most interesting account about this festival comes from the Shiva Maha Puran, where Lord Shiva is urged by Goddess Parvati to explain to Dev Rishi Narad the significance of the festival. Lord Shiva narrates how on that day, long ago, he had presented himself for the first time in the form of a ‘Jyotirmay Stambh’ or a pillar of light and was witnessed first by Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu. The heralded the assimilation of Lord Shiva into the Hindu triumvirate of ‘Tri-Dev’, composed by the coming together of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar. United, they decided to look after the formation, preservation and continuation of the universe.
Devotees observe a day and night of fast and worship Lord Shiva to seek his blessings on this particular day. It is believed that Lord Shiva is the easiest to please, so many people pray with true dedication to get the benefits of worshipping Lord Shiva. By keeping a fast on this day, you can be liberated from the cycle of birth and death.
Traditions and Customs of Shivratri:
There are many traditions that devotees follow to perform the worship of Lord Shiva. The most common is observing a strict day and night fast. Some people consume only fruits and milk on that day while others don’t even consume a drop of water till their fast is over. By successfully observing the fast Lord Shiva blesses his followers with a long life and liberates them from all their sins. Devotees get up early in the morning, take a bath (preferably with Ganga jal) and go to the temple. They take with them Panchamrit (milk, water, Ganga jal, sugar/honey and Saffron) in a bronze container, white flowers (as Lord Shiva liked white flowers), Bel leaves, Bel fruit, garland, sandalwood paste, Ber fruit and incense sticks to the temple. As the devotees reach the Shiva temple they pour the Panchamrit on the Shivling followed by water. Next all the other things like the Bel leaves, fruits and flowers are offered to the Lord. After the sandalwood paste tilak is put on all idols, the incense sticks are lighted and the puja is performed. The worship of Lord Shiva continues all through the day and night. In many Shiva temples jaagrans also happen wherein a large number of devotees spend the night singing hymns, chants, mantras and devotional songs in praise of Lord Shiva. It is only on the following morning that devotee break their fast by taking prasad offered to the deity.
The festival is considered auspicious especially for women. While married women pray for the wellbeing and happiness of their husbands, the unmarried ones pray that they get a good husband like Lord Shiva as he is considered to be the ideal husband. The fast is considered extremely auspicious and many times devotees rate it equal or more than performing the Ashvamedha Yagna.
Significance of Puja items:
According to the Shiva Purana (the holy book of chants and mantras of Lord Shiva) there is a special significance of all the items that are used in puja on Shivratri.
Tradition of Thandai:
The festival of Maha Shivratri is marked with great festivities throughout the country. And as Lord Shiva is considered to be an ascetic god, the festival is hugely popular with the ascetics or the ‘baba’. There is a tradition of drinking thandai on this festival. Thandai is a drink that is made by mixing bhang (cannabis) and almonds in milk. It is believed that bhang or cannabis was really relished by Lord Shiva. And apart from drinking the traditional thandai these days there are bhang laddoos are also consumed on the festival.
By performing the worship with pure devotion and dedication the followers reap the benefits of the blessings that Lord Shiva shower upon them.
Om Namah Shivaya!!!
Lord Shiva is an indispensable part of the great holy Trinity, Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver) and Mahesh/Shiva (the Destroyer). Lord Shiva is worshipped with great devotion by his followers and it is believed that he can be pleased very easily. People believe that by worshipping Lord Shiva with good intention and a clean heart, one can attain salvation. People chant mantras like Om Namah Shivay! From the root of Lord Shiva originated the word Om, so when a person recites Om, he/she is worshipping Lord Shiva. Even though there aren’t too many rituals, there certain Lord Shiva Puja Specifications.
There are specific festivals related to Lord Shiva where the puja is performed in specific ways, there are some general guidelines that one should keep in mind while worshiping Lord Shiva.
Monday is the day for Lord Shiva, thus many unmarried girls fast on Mondays. The fast is known as 16 somwar and it is observed by unmarried girls for 16 consecutive Mondays. As Lord Shiva is considered to be the ideal husband, unmarried girls pray to Lord Shiva to bless them with considerate and loving husbands just like him. Married women fast for Lord Shiva too and pray for the wellbeing and long life of their husbands.
Usually, while performing puja on any of the festivals of Lord Shiva, devotees offer the lord, Panchamrit. It is a special mixture that contains milk, gangajal (water of the river Ganges, which is considered sacred), water, saffron and sugar/honey.
Some of the basic Lord Shiva puja specifications are as follows:
On special occasions and Shiva festivals there are various other offerings that devotees make. These include Bel leaves, Bel (fruit), Gangajal, Rice grains, Ber (fruit). After all the offerings are made to Lord Shiva, devotees usually recite the Shiva Chalisa. In many cases it is observed that his followers recite various mantras as well as the Shiva Chalisa every Monday.
Some experts believe that there are many benefits that a person gets when s/he worships Lord Shiva; the most common of them are listed below:
If you worship Lord Shiva with true dedication and devotion you shall be blessed with good life and ultimate salvation.
Om Namah Sihavaya!!!