This year, Maha Shivarati falls on the 24th of February. Maha Shivaratri is an important festival for the devotees of Lord Shiva. Fasting and conduction of poojas at home or at temples is how most devotees celebrate the occasion.
Most religious festivals in India are celebrated with great pomp and show. But Maha Shivaratri is a day when the devotees keep a fast and meditate on the Lord's name.
Another distinctive feature of Maha Shivaratri is that the fast of Maha Shivaratri lasts a whole day and can be broken only on the next day, unlike other fasts that we usually keep.
The distribution of 'Bhaang' as prasad is also unique to Maha Shivaratri. Bhaang is a beverage made from the extract of the cannabis plant and is slightly intoxicating.
List Of Samagris Required
The textbook form of observing the fast and pooja is not commonly followed when Maha Shivaratri is observed in households. Of course, Lord Shiva does not ask for strict following of the scriptures to be pleased.
We must keep in mind that the origin of Shivaratri can be traced to a poor man offering only his tears and a few bilva leaves to the Shiva Linga. You only need to have a pure heart and heartfelt devotion to please Lord Bholenath.
But if you intend to perform the pooja as the scriptures dictate and are looking for a list of items you need, look no further. Read on to find the complete list of Samagris you'll need to perform the Maha Shivaratri pooja at your home.
The following items are essential for the pooja:
• Shiva Linga or an image of Lord Shiva
• A mat - to sit upon (made from wool)
• Lamps - As many as you wish. Must have at least one.
• Cotton wicks
• Holy bell
• Kalash or a copper pot
• White cloth to place the Shiva Linga or the image of Lord Shiva on
• Match box
• Incense sticks
• Perfume or Attar - The fragrance of aloe is preferred
• Ashtagandha - Scented powder
• Sandal paste
• Vibhooti - the holy ash
• Arka flower
• Bilwa leaves
• Flowers of Dhatoora
• Garland of flowers
• Rice (Akshata)
• Fruits - Bananas are important
• Ganga jal
• Milk - Cow's milk, raw.
• Dry fruits
• Tender coconut water
• Panchamrit - A concoction of curd, honey, ghee, sugar and milk
• Areca nuts
• Betel leaf
The following are optional items:
• Image of Lord Ganesh
• Image of Goddess Lakshmi
• Aasan - A small wooden stool for sitting
• Small katoris or bowls
• A big bowl or vessel to perform abhishek
• Elaichi or cardamom
• Janeyoo (if performed by priests or Brahman)
• Flowers - white and pink lotus flowers
• Rose water
You must remember that it is not important to possess every item on this list.
The pooja is conducted at night. The Maha Shivaratri pooja is done one time or four times throughout the night. If you prefer to perform the pooja four times, the duration of the night can be divided into four prahars. You may perform a pooja during each of the four prahars. If you plan on doing the pooja just once, you may do it during the midnight time.
If you are performing the pooja just once, then you must perform the abhishekha with milk, sandalwood paste, curd, ghee, honey, sugar, rose water and water.
If you are performing the pooja four times during the four prahars, perform abhishek of water during the first prahar. In the second prahar, use curd to do the abhishekha. During the third and fourth prahars, use ghee and honey, respectively. You may use the other materials for abhishekha during the gaps inbetween the four abhishekhas.