Maha Shivaratri 2018: What to do and what to avoid on this auspicious day

Last Updated: Tue, Feb 13, 2018 08:38 hrs
Lord Shiva

New Delhi: One of the most auspicious days in the Hindu calendar is here.

Maha Shivratri dedicated to Lord Shiva will be celebrated on February 13th this year according to the Gregorian calendar.

Shiva devotees observe fast, visit temples and offer their prayers to the Lord. The significant day falls on Chaturdashi Tithi during Krishna Paksha in month of Magha in the South Indian calendar or the Amavasyant Hindu lunar calendar.

However according to North Indian calendar or the Poornimant lunar calendar, Maha Shivaratri is the Masik(monthly) Shivaratri in month of Phalguna. If we were to go by the Gregorian calendar, the day falls on February 13 and extends till February 14.

And as we gear up to celebrate Maha Shivaratri, here’s taking a look at the beliefs and legends associated with the festival.

Flowers that are dear to Lord Shiva

The practice of offering flowers during worship to deities is a long-held one among Hindus. It is believed that the fragrance of the flowers assist in appeasing the deities, thereby, manifesting itself as peace for devotees.

As per Indian mythology, there are specific flowers that are to be offered to each deity. The gods and goddesses all have their preferences in place. Choose the wrong kind of flower and you land on their wrong side! Just kidding.

It is, however, true that every deity is offered a particular set of flowers by their worshippers. On the occasion of Mahashivaratri, we explore the types of flowers that devotees offer Lord Shiva.

1. Maulshri or bakuli flower

2. Pink, white or blue lotus

3. Bael or bilva flowers and leaves

4. Kadamba flower

5. White hibiscus

6. Guldaudi or shevanti flower

7. Kanera flower

8. Ananta flower

9. Akanda flower

10. Jasmine

11. Aparajita or shankhpushpi

12. Dhatura flower

It is said that Lord Shiva is mainly fond of white flowers. However, he is also worshipped with red hibiscus, cotton flowers and roses, depending on the objective to be attained by the ritual.

What not to offer Lord Shiva

According to Shiva Mahapurana, Lord Shiva never accepts the following offerings:

Tulsi leaves are barred from being used in the worship of Lord Shiva.

Saffron, turmeric, vermilion and coconut water are the other items that are barred during the worship of Lord Shiva. Although coconuts are used in worshiping Lord Shiva, coconut water is strictly forbidden.

Champa flower is known by several names and is considered auspicious in the worship of Goddess Lakshmi. This flower is never offered to Lord Shiva. According to the Shiva Mahapurana, Sage Narada had cursed the tree. There was once a time when Lord Shiva accepted champa flowers during worship. In fact, he could not resist the fragrance and would shower blessings on those who made the offering.

Until, one day, Sage Narada once saw a brahmin plucking champa flowers in the forest. The brahmin did not have good intentions. He was seeking the lord's blessings in order to carry out misdeeds. After a while, Sage Narada walked by. He asked the tree whether anyone had plucked its flowers. The champa tree denied. However, Saga Narada learnt the truth when he saw a shivling nearby covered in champa flowers. An angry Sage Narada cursed the tree for having misled a sage. He said, henceforth, no one shall offer the flowers to appease Lord Shiva. This is why Lord Shiva stays away from one of his favourite flowers!

Ketaki flowers are forbidden in the worship of Lord Shiva because he had cursed the flower for telling lies along with Lord Brahma.

Insect-ridden or damaged bael leaves should never be offered to Lord Shiva. Since bael leaves are considered an integral part of the rituals constituting Lord Shiva's worship, one should only offer leaves that are fresh and healthy.

The use of bronze pots is barred in the worship of Lord Shiva. This is so because the milk, curd or panchamruta offered in a bronze pot is equivalent to wine. A copper pot should be used instead.

More from Sify: