Prayers are the most important part of the daily worship; they are the words that we speak the most softly, and wish to be heard the first. We make sure not to make any mistake while performing the puja, in order to please the deity.
We observe a number of rules, depending on the day of the week and the deity being worshipped; what things are dear to the deity and what should never be offered to him, etc.
These are some of the most basic things to be kept in mind while offering the daily prayers.
A Few Things To Note While Offering Prayers to Shiva
It is said that Shiva is the deity while worshiping whom we have to observe the least number of rules. Shiva, the destroyer among the holy Trinity, is the main deity in the Shaivism tradition of Hinduism.
He can be pleased by minimal offerings. That is why, he is also known as Bhole Shankar.
However, we would advise you not to be careless, as there are some rules that you need to observe, not because he would get annoyed if you fail to observe these, but because, it might help you bring closer to your favourite deity.
One must never forget to worship Lord Ganesha before offering his prayers to Lord Shiva. Ganesha is worshiped before all the other deities and he is the one who is considered to make the puja successful.
A Few Rules To Follow During Lord Shiva's Worship
Monday is the most auspicious day to worship Lord Shiva. Girls observe a fast for sixteen Mondays, consecutively, to get a husband as good as Shiva himself or a husband of choice. Married women also observe these fasts for the long life of their husbands. The Mondays of Shravan month are considered the most auspicious for fasting.
Shiva was a sage, and sages appreciate cleanliness of the body, mind, as well as the soul. Never worship Shiva without taking a bath. Women must wash their hair, especially married women. Make sure you have no evil thoughts while worshiping this decent deity. A heart as simple as his own is what Shiva really likes.
The Offerings That Can Be Made To Lord Shiva
Bilva Patras are very dear to Lord Shiva. Devotees should never forget to offer these to him. The shape of the Bilva patra represents the three eyes of Shiva. This is one of the most important offerings on Shivaratri.
One must never pluck the Bilva leaf on a chaturthi, ashtami, chaturdashi, amavasya, etc. Sankranti and Monday also are inauspicious for plucking a Bilva leaf. You can offer the leaf plucked a day before. Also, make sure the leaf is not cut or eaten by an insect.
There is no need to offer precious ornaments or items such as gold to Shiva. As mentioned earlier, he would be pleased even with some minimal offerings.
Milk, curd and seasonal fruits are offered to please him. Offering milk on the Shiva Lingam is considered as the most sacred thing to do. If milk is not available, water mixed with a few drops of milk can also be offered.
Lord Shiva likes white coloured flowers. Therefore, worshiping him with white flowers is another way of taking the blessings of Bhole Shankar. However, there are two flowers which are believed to be cursed by Shiva. The flowers, Ketaki, Kevda (Pandanus) and the Plumeria should not be offered to Shiva.
What Not To Offer To Lord Shiva
Turmeric also must not be offered to Lord Shiva. One should not offer Tulsi leaves on the Shiva Lingam. Kumkum or vermilion should also never be offered to Shiva.
Only Bilva leaves are to be offered. The bhasma can be used for wearing as tilak. Abstain from offering Saffron as well.
Coconut water is also never recommended as an offering to Lord Shiva.
Bhaang - The Favourite Of Lord Shiva
Everybody knows that Bhaang is dear to Shiva. Therefore, never forget to offer Bhaang to him.
The Shiva Lingam should not be offered water using a steel stand. Preferably, you should never buy a Shiva Lingam without a jaldhaara, (the pot used for offering water to a deitiy).
Never Use A Brass Container
Never make the mistake of offering any item in a brass container, not even for offering water to the Shiva Lingam. You can use a copper vessel. Also, make sure not to dip your nails by mistake into the water, milk or curd, etc., that you are to offer to Lord Shiva. Brass and nails pollute the offering, is what is believed.
The last and the most important thing is never consume what you have offered to the Lord. Doing this is considered to be very inauspicious.
These rules, associated with worshiping Lord Shiva, would help our prayers be accepted, as per the Hindu belief, and the puja to become successful.