Lord Shiva (Shri Shivji) श्री शिवजी
Lord Shiva is considered to be self born. He is worshipped all over India in various forms. Most popular ones are the Lingum,the Shiv murthi, and so on. His abode is the Himalayas where he is considered to have spent most of his time in meditaion and is known as the God of creation of good and destruction of evil. His form of destruction of eveil is the Rudra form of shiva. His consort is goddess Parvati.Their sons are Ganesh and Kartikeya. Besides various temples in his name, It is said that Lord shiva has planted himself in twelve forms of Shivlinga (Places where he is to have stayed ) through out India and they are known as 12 jyotirlingas or dwaadash jyotirlingas. They say to visit these 12 spots during your life time releases a human being from all the past bad deeds and sins. Even just saying the names of these 12 places (dwaadash jyotirlinga) is said to rid you of your past sins.Shiva is also considered to be very hot tempered and angry when he sees evil around him and can be cooled down with abhishek of panchamrut/milk/etc.Mahashivratri is the day of his brith. It is usually celebrated at midnight on the indian calendar month of Magha chaturdashi of Krishna paksha. This roughly falls in feb/march of our English calender. Celebration of Mahashivratri is typically done by fasting on the day for the whole day and performing abhishek (offferings to shiv lingam) chanting shlokas, prayers and concluded by aarti. In case you do not have a shiv lingam a picture photo or image shud be fine. Lastly your mental prayers shud be fine as well. As mentioned in my recipe blog on the page ” Fasting-Then and Now” we have various different levels of fasts in Indian-Hindu culture. Fore more details visit the link Fasting- Then and Now, and use your own personal and family discretion for the level of fasting that you wish or your body and mind can handle. Always remember if you do not wish to fast or cannot fast for any reason, you can still perform the puja/abhishek or visit temple or just pray at home. You can also most definitely do the mental prayer offerings. Now let’s move to the rituals/shlokas/prayers/aarti/puja etc for Mahashivratri. As far as time for this puja there are specific times although due to modern life styles/crazy work schedules, my personal opinion is that you can perform your puja any time during the entire day or evening up to midnight of this day. Again performing abhishek and all the rituals according to the time and energy. You can perform the abhishek by slowly offering milk in a thin stream (with a nozzle pot or a small cup that can create a steady small stream on top of the shiv lingam while chanting ॐ नमः शिवायः Om Namah Shivay for 5,7,9,11, or 21 or 108 times is the simplest form of abhishek one can perform. After which you can end it by flowers and rice and chandan tilak. This would be a short simple puja. Bilva patra (three petaled leaf) is very dear to lord shiva and you offer that as well if you are able to find it in your area. Flowers would do as well, inc ase the bilvapatra is not available. Conclude with aarti at the end if you have time. Best times for this puja would be early in the morning after shower. For those with busy schedules, any time that is peaceful and quiet and suits your daily schedule is good. Just before midnight, around sunset are other preferred best times for this puja. Most important is you should have the inner will and intention to do the puja. I am posting below all the shiv puja links from my blog on one page.Om Namah Shivay ॐ नमः शिवायः simple short mantra for Lord shiva (narrate 108 times if possible) while doing abhishek.
Shri Shiv Mahimna Stotrum श्री शिव महिम्न स्तोत्रम् By Pratibha Jani
Shivji’s Aarti शिवजी आरति By Pratibha Jani
Shri Shivji’s Lingashtakam
श्री शिव लिङ्गाष्टकं