Shivaling is the symbol of Lord Shiva. The reason behind calling Shiva the Lord is the immense power of his blessings. Because of all these reasons, he is referred to as Brahma. People pray to both the ling and the statue of Shiva. Except Shivaling, no other ling is worshipped. Shiva is formless, shapeless and timeless. Here, Ganesha will talk in length about his father and Mahashivaratri.
Mahashivaratri falls on the 13th day of the dark half of Phalgun. It means "the night of Shiva". All the prayers and rituals are performed at night. Shiva got married to Parvati on this auspicious day. Lord Shiva appeared in the form of a ling in front of Brahma and Vishnu on this day. It is said that whoever prays to the Shivaling on this day attains salvation. By observing fast on this day and praying Lord Shiva, you can get benefits that one gets after one year of rigorous prayer. Just as moon causes tides on a full moon night, Shivaratri increases Shiva's dharma.
Shiva once said that whoever worships his and Parvati's statue on this day will be dearer to him than his own son Kartik. The benefits that one gets through a glance of Shiva are unmatchable.
The Shivaling is worshipped whole night by washing it every three hours with milk, curd and honey. Chanting of "Om Namah Shivaya" continues amidst all these prayers. Bael leaves are offered to Lord Shiva, as they are considered sacred. Hymns of Lord Shiva are sung with great enthusiasm and devotees keep vigil all night. Here we will see how this fast should be observed.
First Quarter Til (Sesame Seeds),
Jav, Lotus, Bilipatra
Second Quarter Fruit of Vijora, offer
lemon, Offering of Kheer
Third Quarter Til, Wheat, Malpua,
Fourth Quarter Udadh, Jav, Moong,
and Pakodas of udadh should
be offered at the end.
If one observes fast on Shivaratri unknowingly, then also he gets various benefits. There is a story of a hunter who once went to the forest in search of prey. He sat on a tree of bilipatra waiting for some prey. There was a Shivaling under the tree. While waiting for the prey, the hunter threw bilipatra on Shivlinga. First quarter passed and a deer came there to drink water. When the hunter tried to kill it, it requested him for mercy as its children were waiting for it. In the second quarter, its children came there. But the hunter did not kill them either. All the four quarters passed like this only and the hunter kept offering Bilipatra and water to the Linga empty stomach. Lord Shiva himself appeared before the hunter and he attained salvation. This was the result of his fast.
This is why observing fast on Shivaratri is essential. If one observes fast on this day with complete devotion, he certainly reaps the benefits. May Lord Shiva bless us all!