Regular fasting on Shivratri will make the devotees enjoy princely life and comforts in the next life, a permanent place in Lord Shiva’s abode after death and liberation from the cycles of birth and death. The merits of Shivratri vrat are several times more than performing an Ashwamedha sacrifice.
SHIVRATRI FASTING RULES
Starting the day
On Shivratri day, the devotee must wake up early in the morning and take holy bath in a sacred river. If this is not possible, then water boiled with some sesame seeds must be used for bathing to ward off the impurities. New clothes are worn and the devotee should visit the nearby Shiva temple.
The devotee can sponsor a holy bath for Shiva Linga at the temple by offering milk, honey, fragrant materials, flowers, new clothes and other puja materials possible. It is highly auspicious to chant the divine names of Lord Shiva during the holy bath at the temple.
Offerings to Shiva on Shivratri Day
Following the Shiv Puja, the devotee decorates the idol with turmeric paste (haldi), sandal paste (chandan), vermilion (kumkum), bilva leaves, flowers and new clothes. Camphor light is waved in front of the deity and arati songs are sung. The other offerings during the conclusion of the puja include burning incense sticks and ringing of the temple bells.
Shiv Puja during Shivratri
While observing the fast, the devotees must do Shiv Puja on the night of Shivratri either at the home or temple. Shivratri puja is usually done once in every three hours. The whole of the night is divided thus into four parts and during each of the segments ritual bath and worship is offered to Shiva Linga.
Fasting rules of Shivratri
- The fasting on Shivratri starts at the dawn and continues over the day and night. The fasting must conclude only on the next day during the parana timing as suggested by the Panchang (calendar).
- The fasting is doubly beneficial only with night long vigil during Shivratri. The vigil must be accompanied by Shiv Puja either at the home or temple.The strict form of fasting consists of abstaining from food, drinks and water. The milder form of fasting allows consuming milk, water and fruits.
- The most important aspect of the fasting is abstaining from bad thoughts, bad company and bad words. The devotee must practice virtues and keep away from all evils.
- Staying at the temple premises, chanting the names of Lord Shiva and listening to the glories of the Lord are the most beneficial activities advised for the devotees.
- The essence of the fasting and vigil are achieving mastery over senses and learning to control desires. The pure state of mind achieved thus is diverted towards the Lord thereby purifying the individual’s body, mind and soul.