Community on Yoga, Meditation, Ayurveda and Spirituality
The Holy Night of Shiva.
Swami Sivananda writes about this Festival:
"Shivaratri falls on the 13th (or 14th) day of the dark half of Phalgun (February-March). The name means "the night of Shiva". The ceremonies take place chiefly at night. This is a festival observed in honour of Lord Shiva. Shiva was married to Parvati on this day.
People observe a strict fast on this day. Some devotees do not even take a drop of water. They keep vigil all night. The Shiva Lingam is worshipped throughout the night by washing it every three hours with milk, curd, honey, rose water, etc., whilst the chanting of the Mantra Om Namah Shivaya continues. Offerings of bael leaves are made to the Lingam. Bael leaves are very sacred as, it is said, Lakshmi resides in them.
Hymns in praise of Lord Shiva, such as the Shiva Mahimna Stotra of Pushpadanta or Ravana's Shiva Tandava Stotra are sung with great fervour and devotion. People repeat the Panchakshara Mantra, Om Namah Shivaya. He who utters the Names of Shiva during Shivaratri, with perfect devotion and concentration, is freed from all sins. He reaches the abode of Shiva and lives there happily. He is liberated from the wheel of births and deaths. Many pilgrims flock to the places where there are Shiva temples. "
"At the Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh, the Shivaratri festival is celebrated in the following manner.
1. All spiritual aspirants fast the whole day, many of them without taking even a single drop of water.
2. A grand havan is performed for the peace and welfare of all.
3. The whole day is spent in doing the Japa of Om Namah Shivaya and in meditation upon the Lord.
4. At night all assemble in the temple and chant Om Namah Shivaya the whole night.
5. During the four quarters of the night the Shiva Lingam is worshipped with intense devotion.
6. Sannyas Diksha is also given on this day to sincere seekers on the path.
Offer this inner worship to Lord Shiva daily: "I worship the jewel of my Self, the Shiva residing in the Lotus of my heart. I bathe Him with the water of my pure mind brought from the river of faith and devotion. I worship Him with the fragrant flowers of Samadhi-all this so that I may not be born again in this world."
Here is another formula for the supreme worship of the Lord: "O Shiva! you are my Self. My mind is Parvati. My Pranas are your servants. My body is your house. My actions in this world are your worship. My sleep is Samadhi. My walk is circumambulation of you. My speech is your prayer. Thus do I offer all that I am to you."