According to Hindu mythology, Mahashivratri is Lord Shivas favourite day so by worshipping Lord Shiva on the auspicious occasion of Mahashivratri one can attain his blessings very easily.
According to one of the most popular legends, Shivaratri is the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. It is also believed that Lord Shiva performed "Tandava", the dance of the primal creation, preservation and destruction on this auspicious night of Shivaratri. According to another popular legend, described in Linga Purana, it was on Shivaratri that Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a Linga for the first time. Since then, the day is considered to be extremely auspicious by the devotees of Shiva and they celebrate it as Maha Shivaratri - the grand night of Shiva.
Determination of Date
Mahashivaratri is celebrated on Shukla Chaturdashi falling in the night of the month of Phalgun. If it falls or does not fall on two nights then in that case it is celebrated on the second day. If the same Chaturdashi falling at the second night falls in one part of the night and in the whole night on first day in that case it should be celebrated on first day.
How to Celebrate
The festival is principally celebrated by offerings of Bael leaves to lord Siva, all-day fasting and an all-night-long vigil. People in India generally observe fast on this day. The devotees chant "Om Namah Shivay" mantra & penances are performed in order to gain boons in the practice of Yoga and meditation. The planetary position on this day, act as potent catalysts to upgrade spiritual energies of the devotee. It proves highly beneficial to chant Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra on this night.
Wearing a rosary made from Rudraksha and applying turmeric vermilion or holy ash on forehead symbolizes a holy ritual on this religious festival. Holy Mantras are also recited and special puja ceremonies are held throughout the night to celebrate Shivratri. Mahashivratri is not only one of the magnificent festivals in India but also in Nepal and other regions where Lord Shiva is worshipped. Many Sadhus on Maha Shivratri visit shrines and offer marijuana (Bhang) to worshipers to spread the significance of the festival.
Mahshivaratri Vrat (Fast)
Kashmiri Pandits celebrate Mahashivaratri continuously for 16 days. The auspicious ceremony of the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati is celebrated for 4 days. This fast is matchless in its power of eradicating all types of sins. This fast was observed by Lord Rama, Ravana, Sita, Parvati and also Laxmi. The sprinkling ceremony of Parad Shivlinga on this day yields unlimited auspicious results. Taking bath in Ganges on this day is considered very auspicious. Bilwapatras should be offered to Lord Shiva. Eating Jujube (Ber) on this day is also considered equally auspicious.
Method of Observing Mahshivaratri Vrat
This fast is observed on the Krishna Chaturdashi of the month of Phalgun. Actually the night of Trayodashi Tithi is Mhashivaratri. On Trayodashi one should have food only once and on Chaturdashi one should not have food. After having your bath on the day of Chaturdashi one should perform Shodashopchar Puja of Lord Ganesha, Parvati and Nandi. Offering of mangoes to Lord Shiva along with Dhatura flowers, Bilwapatras, Durva, Kaner, Maulsiri and basil leaves is auspicious. Whatever is offered on Shivlinga should not be accepted back in the form of oblation. An idol of Shaligram should be placed near the idol of Lord Shiva. After the completion of Puja food and gifts should be offered to Brahmins. One should chant Bhajans in the night. Different types of Abhishekas can be preformed for sorting out different types of problems.
"Om Namah Shivay"
Aarti Shri Shivji Ki
Om jay shiv onkara, prabhu jay shiv onkara |
brahma, vishnu, sadashiv, adrdhangni dhara || Om har har har mahadev
ekanan chaturanan, panchanan raje |
hansanan garurasan, vrishvahan saje || Om har ........
do bhuj char chaturbhuj, dashmukh ati sohai |
tinhu rup nirkhta, tribhuvan jan mohe || Om har ........
akshamala vanmala, mundamala dhari |
chandan mrig mad sohe, bhole shashidhari || Om har ........
shvetambar pitambar, baghambar ange |
brahmadik sankadik, bhutadik sange || Om har ........
kar ke madhya kamandal chakra trishuldhari |
sukhkari, duahkhhari jag palnkari || Om har ........
brahma, vishnu, sadashiv, janat aviveka |
pranvakshar ke madhye, ye tinon eka || Om har ........
trigun svami ji ki arti jo koi nar gave |
kahat shivanand svami, manvanchit fal pave || Om har .......