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FAQ on Shivaratri (or Maha Shivaratri)

1. Why It is called MahaShivaratri –

It is Maha Shivaratri Because, this one is very special among the twelve shivaratirs we have for
the whole year. This falls on Magha masa. And Magha Masa is one of the very special masas of
the Hindu calendar. Mahashivaratri falls on Magha Krishna Chaturdasi. And it also signifies end
of cold season.(Shivaratri chali Oditu) – This is considered as Maha parva Kala. One more
speciality is, If Maha Shivaratris falls on a Sunday or Tuesday, it is considered to be even more
ShresTha. This time it has fallen on a Friday.
2. When is Maha shivaratri falling for 2010 –
Maha Shivaratri Falls on February 12th 2010 - Friday, Virodhi Nama Samvastara Magha Bahula
Chaturdarsi .
3. How Many Sivaratri will come per Year –
Twelve. Every Krishna Chaturdasi of every month. Pl. look into panchangam. For every
shivaratri in the month is noted as masa shiva ratri.of which, we celebrate Maha shivaratri in a
grand(Bhakti) manner which comes in Magha Masa Krishna Chaturdasi. Also, we add that, The
Lord Shiva likes, Monday, Krishna Astami, and Chatrudashi. Out of which he likes Chaturdashi
the most.
4. Who is the Main deity on this day
– Lord “Shiva”. Mangala Murtha ye namaha.
5. What are the main rituals on this date –
Upavasa, Jagarane (vigil on whole day), Shivaarchane/Abhisheka, Pooja/Japa/etc.,. Mainly Shiva
Dhayana is the call for the day.
6. Why is Shivaratri Upavasa (Fasting) done
We are doing pooja for the sake of Purushartha, that is dharma, Artha, kama, Mokha…. We can
do pooja internally (with in), and baahya (bahiranga-outside)…. For both types of aaradane, the
upavaasa helps. That means, nirahara helps….it provokes our satva guna with-in ourselves,
which is the best form /State of Mind to do pooja. It gives us chitta shuddhi, which is every
important to perform shiva Pooja. On the other hand, .(We all have all the three gunas
Satva,rajas and tamo gunas with-in. It gets provoked depending on our food, actions and
thoughts.) Some types of food provoke our tamo guna and rajo guna with-in all of us which are
not suitable for doing pooja….. hence upavasa is considered to be shre sta during shiva pooja. If
strict Upavasa is not possible, we can take very little food (like avalakki, uppittu, or 1 glass of
Milk…etc.,) for the sake of satisfying ourselves only…. That too if we cannot afford strict
upavasa based on Health grounds. Regarding the types of food and their effects on us are
discussed in detail in Bhagavad geeta chapter 17 sloka 8 to 13. However, for pregnet Women,
old people, and children, they are discounted from Upavasa, as their Deha Dharma will not allow
them to do the same. One should always keep Deha Dharma in mind while doing Upavasa.
7. When should we break the fasting –
This year We should Fast the whole Friday (12th) and We should break the fasting after yaama
pooja, (Evening, Night, Mid Night, Early Morning- 4 yaamas- Pooja) and complete nitya
Sandyavandane and Ista Devataa pooja for the next day(after 6’o clock) and then, we should
break the fast. Sleep only after Chandra darshana on that day(Saturday). Please remember,
Saturday is also Amavasya. Hence, the tarpanadhikari (People eligible to do Tarpana) should do
Tarpana and there after break the fast.
8. What is Jagarane –
To Keep the vigil the whole night, in the Shiva Nama Smarane and devoti ng Lord Shiva for all
the 4 Yaamas with Shodashopachara pooja and abhisheka completes jaagarane. If you are not
in a position to do pooja for some reason, at least, participate in a pooja done by others will also
give the same phala(results).Note: The Sadhaka (onewho is performing pooja), should take a
fresh Bath and start pooja from the beginning for all the four Yaamas.
9. What is Dharma Sindu’s opinion about Shivaratri Kala nirnaya
Dharma Sindhu is (Our Dharma Ref. Book) –
The Trayodashi is is Shakti swaroopa and the Chatrudashi is Shiva swarooa. So when ever there
is overlapping of chaturdashi on trayodashi, it is very auspicious for Shiva pooja on that day
during night. Because, Shiva is Mangalamoorthy with shiva-shati swaroopa. The Dharma sindhu
says, Chaturdashi should be there during proadosha time and should extend up to mid night,
then it is considered to be the day of Shivaratri.
10. What is Yaama –
After sun set, roughly every 3 hours is called one Yaama. That means, evening 6 to 9 is 1st
yaama--- do one pooja. Complete it. Take the second bath. From 9 to 12am do the second
pooja complete the pooja. Take the third bath and complete the pooja between 12am to 3 am.
Do the 4th one between 3am to 6am. This is called yaama pooja. The 4 baths, told are for the
person doing pooja only. Not for all. The snana is called kriyaanga snana only for pooja
purpose. As far as correct Yama timings, Look at the sun Set time and the next day Sunrise time
divide by four and count from sun set time, that many hours for each Yama.

11. Why do we do four Yaama pooje for the Lord Shiva on this day –
Normally the Deva pooja kala(time) is Morning. If you divide the day(between sun raise to sun
set) into 5 parts, the first part is Praatah kaala. The second part is sangava kaala, the third part
is madyanha kaala.the 4th is Aparaanha kaala and the fifth is Saayankaala. For pooja of Gods,
only the first part (or first and second) is very good time. But one specialty in Shivaraatri, is on
this day, Lord shiva Prefers Raatri Pooja.That is why, People do Shiva Pooja in all the 4 yaamaas
in the night for this Auspicious Day. Lord shiva along with his Gana Samuha, will be travelling to
each and every house hold on this date. Hence, shiva puja at this hour is Natural.
12. What are the four names of shiva for this four Yaamas-
1.Shiva, 2.Shankara, 3.Maheshwara, 4.Rudra…… In the first yama pooja, say Shivayanamaha
dyayami , dyanam, avaahanam etc., in second yama say Shankaraya namaha dyami etc., in the
third yama say Maheswarayanama etc., and in the fourth yama we should use Rudraya namaha
every where and complete all the four yaama pooja this way. These are the special four names
of Shiva respectively for the four Yaamaas. So all the 4 poojas should be held in these respective
names of Shiva.
13. What is Shiva Panchaakshari Pooja
This is one form of shiva called Samba sadashiva pooja. This is also called Sri Shiva panchakshari
pooja. For this Vamadeva is the Rishi, Anushtup is the ChandaS,, and Samba sadashiva is the
devata…. We should do dhyanam as though shiva is sitting on the silver hills,
14. What is the significance of Panchaakshari puja on this date
Shiva Panchakshari is very powerful and people who have had upadesha of this Maha shiva
Panchaakshari Mantra can do this vishesha pooja with Moola Mantra on this day. The details
are given in dharma sindhu.
15. What is Shistaachara
Shistachaara is refered to protecting our old traditions. The tradition will wary from people to
people, Region to Region, time to time. Hence, we should follow our traditional way, the way
our fathers and grandfathers have followed. This is called shistachaara. Shista chara also
referes to Guru parampara where we follow traditionas as per our Guru
16. What is the meaning of Nakta
This is one of the many ways of doing Upavasa. That means, Having Food in the night (pradosha
time)only once a Day after shiva pooja.
17. What is the meaning of Nisheetha
Nisheetha is the eighth Muhurtha of the night. The Shivaratri happens only if chaturdashi is
extended upto the nisheetha muhurtha.
18. What are the Nivedya items to be kept for Shiva Pooja on this date – Haanu (panchaphalafive
types of Fruits), Kayi(coconut), Sajjige(Kesaribath), Cow’s Milk, Kuttida Huli Avalakki,
Panchakajjaya, Rasayana, Payasa, Kadale Usali, Etc.,
19. What is Rudra puracharana
Rudra purascharana is procedure of repetition of Namaka and perform Shiva Abhisheka. This
procedure is well explained in Maharnava-Karma vipaka by Sri Veda Ratnam Malalavadi
Venkata Rama Avadhani. He is considered as authority on this subject. He Explains this in
Mahanyasa Prakaram. ---
atra rudrikadashinee maharudraatirudraaNaam laKshana maha Shaataatapaha!!
Shadangaikadashee rudro rudrikadasha rudrataha! ekadashbhiretaabhirmahaa rudrascha
kathyate.! ekadasha maha rudrirati rudra iteerita iti!
That means, Shadanga nyasa sahita (mahanyasa) japa should be done first…. And then eleven
anuvakas of Namaka has to be said….and then first anuvaka of chamakam .. then again eleven
anuvakas of namakam and then second anuvaka of chamakam … like this eleven times will be
called as Shadanga Ekaadasi…… this itself is called Rudra. Ekadasha Rudrihi poorvoktihi
Rudrikadashini iti vyapadesha vaagbhavathi. Like this eleven times is Rudrikaadashinee.
20. What is the Sankalpa for all the four Yaamas
“Sri Shiva Prityartham, Shivaratrou sri Shiva Poojam Karishye”…… or for the first yama, prathama
yama poojam karishye.. for second, dwiteeya yama poojam karishyee etc.,

21. Why Shiva is Abhisheka priya –

There is a saying that Alankara priyo – Vishnuhu(Lord Vishnu), Nivedya Priyo
Ganadhyakshaha(Ganapathi), Namaskara Priyo Bhanuhu(Sun), Abhisheka priyo
shambhuhu(Shiva)………Linga is considered to be very hot. That is the re ason the shiva has
Ganga River itself on his head (to be cool)…He is also Rudra(layakaraka)… We as devotees, we
will prey him to be cool, and bless us…. That is the reason, we Place a Shivalinga on a special
plate called Somasootra take a special tripod and place a Dhara patra (special
(Silver/copper/bronze)vessel with a hole at bottom) and do abhisheka… this is called santaata/
nirataradhaara (continuous flow of water without break) on shiva’s Head. That is Linga’s Head.
One more thing.. he is also Dhyana Priya…. Always doing shiva dhaya with-in is most dearest to
Lord Shiva in the general sense.
22. What should be the direction of Shiva Linga----
The Shiva Linga is normally kept facing East or North… that means, if saadhaka (Person doing
pooja) is facing east, he will keep the linga in front of him with the Linga Yoni towards north. If
the sadaka is facing North, the Linga will be kept in front of him with the linga Yoni facing East.
23. What is Linga yoni ---
The word Linga Yoni has got lot of me aning and it is very difficult to explain in a FAQ. (o.K. let
me explain in one word, he is Shiva- Shakti Swaroopa. That is why, there is Linga+yoni is present
in single Ling). For our purpose, the tip of the linga from where the water falls down to earth is
called Linga Yoni.

24. What is Soma Sutra……..

Soma Sutra is the Special plate meant to keep Shiva linga for the Abhisheka purpose .
Normally it is made of Silver/Copper. There will be Astadala Padma (Lotus with 8 petals) Scribed
at the center with lot of metal carvings…. Now a days, the plate with carvings are a rarity… but
the plain ones are available….. If it is copper, then, Rudra abhisheka should be done only with
Water. Because, other than water, liquids like Milk, curds, Honey etc., will react to copper
metal . Not good for us to consume the teertha. If it is Silver, then no problem.
25. What is the direction of soma sutra at the time of puja---
- Somasutra should be placed in such a way that, the water falls towards east or North. and the
Saadhaka should be facing North or East respectively. One rule is Saadhaka should never sit at
the tip of the Somasutra. (in that case, he will be facing West or South, which is not
26. What are the Materials we can think of Shivalinga….
Normally Shivalinga is Best of Spatika….. or even Saligrama Shila…. Or Silver…. Or Mrithike….Any
linga is ok… because… The Linga Swaroopa itself is Mangalakara Anubhava(experience)…This
Linga Swaroopa (shape) helps us to concentrate on the Supreme God (Brahman) and we
basically bring out the supreme Lord with in us, and we will be doing abhisheka. That is the
whole concept of Rudraabhisheka.
27. What are the items to be worn for a sadhaka during shiva pooja for this day
Bhasma, Tripundra, Rudraaksha mala, Shwetha Vastra (White Cloth) Vesti and Anga Vastra.
28. Which are the famous Shiva Temples in and around Bangalore/Karnataka/India –
Gavi Gangadhara Swami Temple,Bangalore, SriKanteswara Temple Channamanakere bus stand
–Bangalore, Talakadu (Famous Pancha linga darshana), Nanjangudu-Srikanteswara, Dharmastala
– Manjunatheswara, Murudeswara, Gokarna, Chidambaram – Tamil Nadu, … Somanatheswara
temple, Rameswara, Varanasi, Dwadasha Linga darshana, Lord Pashupathi(Nepal) Etc.,I have
limited Knowledge in this area.
29. What is the Shiva nama prescribed for Japa for people other than Brahmins
People other than Brahmins will say –“ Shree Shivaya Namaha”…..without Om
kara……..Brahmins will say Om Namh Shivaya… that means the word Namha comes first for
Brahmins and for others, the namha comes in the end. This is only procedural difference,
nothing otherwise.. there is no answer with me for the question why like this…..This is given as
per Dharma Sindhu….

30. What is the most important flowers for Shiva Pooja this day…
Tumbe hoova, Bilwa patre (with three leaves), Yekkada hoova, Lingada Hoova, Rudrakshi hoova
both red and white type, pagade, datoori, brihati, Kempu(red) Daasavalada hoova, Kanagale
Hoova both white type and red type…, and any other white flowers, any flower available in the
Market, except Chandu hoova which is used only for decoration of house, temple etc.,
31. What is Importance of BilwaDala and what is Bilwa mahime….
Bilwadala is considered to be with three leaves together. Only that type of Bilwa dala should be
made use of while doing shivarrchane. The three dalas signify the Brahma, Vishnu, Maheswara,
and it is the most liked by Lord Shiva. We also place one Bilwa dala on the lord’s head while
doing Rudra abhisheka. The Bilwa Mahime is well explained in Bilwa Astaka.
32. What are Important Fruits……
any Fruit except Papaya,Butter Fruit…kallngari(Water melon) etc., because usually, these are not
kept for Nivedya(Gods’ offering) . But Fruits like Banana, Coconut, and Dry fruits are important
for Abhisheka purpose.
33. What are the items with which we can do abhisheka,----
Milk, Curds, Water,Sugarcane juice, Coconut water, Ganga, Honey, Mango Juice, Ghee,
34. What is Mythological /Significance of Mahashivaratri
Lots of stuff is available on Internet. Bedara Kannappa, story, a hunter performing Shiva Linga
abhisheka and doing upavasa without his knowledge, another hunter and his wife along with
their dog doing Upavasa without their knowledge every body attains Shiva Saayujya (Moksha).
More details are available in Shiva Purana. The Gist of all these stories are during Shiva Ratri,
People should Make Jaagarane(Vigil), Upavasa, and Shiva Dhyaana/Pooja,.
35. What is Definition of one Rudra –
One Purascharana(chanting) of full Namaka and one stranza of Chamaka and then another
purascharana of Namaka and second Stranza of Chamaka and so on upto 11th Anuvaka(stranza)
of Chamaka is called one Rudra.
36. What is EkavaraRudraabhisheka –
One Rudra pathana is One Ekavara

37. What is EkaDashavara Rudraabhisheka –

Eleven Rudra pathana is One Ekadashavara
38. What is Shatavaara Rudrabhisheka-
Eleven-Eleven Rudra pathana is One shatavara –
39. Which is the authentic swara sahita Rudra Audio Available in net/cassette/CD/DVD or video
Challakere Bros. to my knowledge. I heard them(audio-recording) playing in Dharmasthala
Temple also during my recent visit there.. Their Swara and Kantha (voice) and the mantra
rendering are very authentic close to the text and very pleasing… without any Music or
sruti.(Veda chanting will not have sruti in the back ground as they are shruti themselves)
40. What are the Donot’s on this night……
Watching TV…. Entertainments…jokes, Harate....Playing card Games….indulging in noisy
activities, Having Non Vegetarian Food, Having Onion or any food(heavy meals) etc.,
41. What are the Dos for this Night…
Only Jagarane, Shiva Pooja,Japa, visiting Various temples, Upavasa or little Breakfast(only if you
can’t observe Strict upavasa for the health reason)… maintaining /observing silence (mouna
with Lord Shiva Japa) and enjoying silence of the night and Shiva Manasa pooja(Shiva pooja
with-in Mind).

42. Among Pooja, Upavasa, Jagarane, which is Important during this Festival….
Among, Pooja, Upavasa, and Jagarane, In one of the context, the shiva ratri is compared to
Ekadashi in thithi tatva grantha, and it is given that, Upavasa is most important during
shivaratri… In another context, it says, for the people, who observes vigil (jaagarane) during
shivaratri, the doors of heaven always will be open for him(example..the hunter keeping vigil for
the Shivaratri night waiting for a animal catch without his knowledge attains Moksha)… this
shows importance of vigil… and we have already discussed on the pooja mahatva….. so the
conclusion is all the three are of same importance. However, if you cannot observe strict
upavasa, (due to health reason), take little food which will not do too much of disturbance to
your shiva pooja and dhyana…..and Jaagarane is meant only for Bhagavad dhyaana only No TVs
and music, Harate, Jokes,.. etc., So…. If all the three are not stri ctly followed due to various
personal reasons,… we should observe all the three Yatha shakti.. that means to the personal
capacity without diluting the whole effect. End of the day, the Mind should be cheerful.
43. What is the general Mindset of the saadhaka…
He should be a person who enjoys Dhyana of Shiva, He should have Aaathma Guna Sampattu,
Kind Towards Animals, He should not be jealous, He should be observing Cleanliness(with-in and
outwards that is Antah Shuchi and Bahih Shuchi), he should not be very tired, He should not be
over ambitious (that is durase – in Kannada), He should be of forgiving nature, and He should
think good about himself and others - Sarve Janah sukhino Bhavantu thinking. Truthfulness,
Ahimsa, He should be Sweet Tempered (short temper is prohibited), Bhrahmacharya. These are
General Qualities of a Sadhaka. Importantly, all of the Puja items should be bought from his
own good earnings without borrowing(Swayaarjita)…and the puja flowers should be hand
picked(as far as possible) from sadhaka himself which signifies more Bhakti.
44. Do Even Vaishnavas and Sri Vaishnavaas Do Shiva pooja this day
Their Explanation is that, Shiva was great Bakhta of Narayana. And Narayana likes the people
who do aaradhana of his Bhaktaas (Bhaaghavata aaradhane), hence, they also perform shiva
pooja in the name of Rudra (they consider Rudra as one great Bhaaghavatha and do his
aaradane) on this date. This day is so auspicious that no one can afford to be away from Shiva
smarane. That is the gist.

45. What is ISKON View on shivaratri and give some useful links for further information.
Pl. refer above link for the answer.
Pl. refer above link for chitra bhanu Story (Mytho Significance of Shivaratri
This is another useful link for Sivaratri details.

46. What is the meaning of Shiva –

Bhadram.. Mangalam…Kalyanam……. Shivam….He is Mangalakaaraka… He is Shaanta
Swaroopa…...He is Jagannatha….He is Loka Anugraha Karaka….So Shivam Means… Mangalam.