Shivaratri literally means ‘the night of Lord Shiva’ and unlike other festivals associated with Hinduism there is no fun and celebrations on Shivratri day. Fasting and not sleeping at night is the most important observance on Shivaratri day. Shivratri night and the fast provides an opportunity to remove the ignorance and realize the Self that you are part of the Supreme Truth (Brahman) and open the door to bliss.
How to observe Shivratri Fast?
Devotees wake up before sunrise and take bath and wear clean clothes.
Applying of sacred ash, or vibhuthi, is an important aspect on the day. People also wear a Rudraksha Mala.
The idols of Ganesh, Shiva and Parvati are cleaned and a lamp is lit.
Most people then visit a nearby Shiva temple. In most places, Shivratri is largely observed in temples.
Food Eaten on the Shivratri Day
Most devotees go for a fruit diet and drink lots of water.
Since it is a long Fast many people consume a special meal known as ‘phalar.’
Some people consume a mid-day meal consisting of non-cereal food such as boiled potatoes which is made into a curry without onion, garlic, adarak or haldi. Another food eaten on the day is pakori or Kutt Singahri ki puri.
No meal is eaten after sunset.
Next meal is taken on the morning of Amavasya (next day morning) after doing puja and giving alms.
The entire night is spend in a nearby Shiva temple or by chanting Mantras or listening to stories related to Shiva.
Some of the important mantras that are chanted on the day include: Shiva Panchakshari Mantra (Om Namah Shivaya) or chanting the sacred names of Lord Shiva, Mahamritunjaya Mantra etc. People also listen to Lingashtakam and Bilwashtakam.
People who have a Shivling at home can bathe the Shivling with water intermittently throughout the night.
The Gain from Shivaratri Fasting
All the rituals on the night of Shivaratri are meant to cleanse the ignorance and realize that all animate and inanimate is nothing but the Supreme Truth Shiva. The fasting, rituals and chanting are meant to kill desire, greed, illusion, arrogance, jealousy, and anger. This will make you a better person and prepare you to face the challenges.
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