Shivaratri is celebrated by many across the world and for someone who has grown up in India, the festival brings a feeling of nostalgia!
Lord Shiva is mostly propitiated in the form of a Shiva Lingam. Shiva Lingam represents Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Top Part (circular) represents Shiva. Middle Portion (octagon) represents Vishnu and Lower Part (cuboid) represents Brahma.
observing shivaratri Festival
Waking up early in the morning and fasting through the day and night (till next morning), thinking about Lord Shiva and performing Abhishekam with water, milk, curd, honey, sandalwood paste, oil, vibhooti, bel leaves, ganga jal, rose water is common across devotees! In some cultures, the 24-hour Shivaratri cycle is divided in 8 prahars (6-9 am, 9-12 pm, 12-3 pm, 3-6 pm, and same through the night). In each prahar, special abhishekam is performed at home and in temples!
Staying awake through the night and singing bhajans, making garlands, performing abhishekam, listening to Shiva-Parvati stories, watching Shiva-Parvati movies/TV shows to help stay awake through the night without feeling sleepy is a common practice. Joining together in groups makes it easier to remain awake. Breaking the fast next day after puja with a light / hearty meal feels satisfying!
Thevaram is a collection of poems about Lord Shiva and there are very many teachers who are still teaching it (both in person and online). Got to meet one such family at a local temple, and was mesmerized. For anyone wanting to learn, there is always a door that opens up! If you are interested in learning, please leave a comment, will connect you with a few local groups!
Abhishekam in temples are performed by priests.
Panchabhoota sthalas are famous in South India, each of them representing the 5 elements
|Earth (Prithvi Lingam)||Thiruvarur, Kanchipuram, Tamilnadu|
|Water (Jambu Lingam)||Thiruvanaikkaval, Tamilnadu|
|Air (Vayu Lingam)||Sri Kala Hasthi, Andhra Pradesh|
|Fire (Agni Lingam, Jyothi Lingam)||Tiruvannamalai, Tamilnadu|
|Ether/Space (Akasha Lingam)||Chidambaram, Tamilnadu|
Sahasra lingas (1000 Shiva Lingams) were discovered under the water bed in Sirsi, Karnataka. This place is also known as Shivakashi.
Devotees get an opportunity to perform the abhishekam to the Shiva lingams in temples!
12 Jyothirlinga sthalas are very famous in North India. Try to take the 12 Jyothirlinga quiz to see the Shiva lingams in these places.
In Kashmir, this festival is called as Herath. Interesting facts shared in the Kashmiri magazine for kids.
Walnuts seem to be an important part of Shivaratri celebrations in Kashmir! What do walnuts signify? The four parts of the walnuts signify the four Vedas (Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharvana Veda). The walnut is therefore seen as a symbol and SEED theory of Shiva in manifestation.
The shell of the walnuts are broken in proper halves and lamps are lit during Shivaratri (Herath) festival in Kashmir!
Rudraksha symbolizes the sacred tears of Lord Shiva. As per mythology, once Lord Shiva went into a deep meditation to bring happiness to all living beings. When he woke up from his meditative state, tears fell on Earth, that were the seeds of Rudraksha trees.
Just like gemstones, there are artists and scholars who study to differentiate the benefits of Rudrakshas, who can help identify the authenticity of it as well!
Observer the Four Mukhi Rudraksha to understand how the quadrants are formed, and look for the number of quadrants in the other ones! You can relate to it easily this way.
Some unique Shiva lingams
When the student is ready, the master appears! Experienced this while writing this article!