Shiva Abhishek on Shivaratri is a popular way of worshipping Lord Shiva. On this night, the Shivalinga is bathed with water, milk, curd and many other aromatic liquids with offerings of various fruits. The verse below from our sacred texts reveals the best way to worship Lord Shiva:
“Alankaarapriyo Vishnuh, Abhishekpriyah Shivah.” This means Vishnu is very fond of Alankaar (fine dress, beautiful ornaments and so on) whereas Lord Shiva is a lover of Abhishek.
In most Shiva temples, you will find a pot of copper or brass with a hole in the centre hanging over the Shivalinga. From this pot, the water drips continuously over the deity. Along with this, other fluids such as milk, ghee, honey, curd and coconut water are poured and this ritual is called Shiva Abhishek. During this ritual, devotees chant the Shiva mantra “Om Namah Shivaye”, Mahamrityunjaye mantra, Purush Sookt or Rudram.
Monday is ruled by Lord Shiva and 13th day of the fortnight (Pradosh) is also considered sacred for His worship. On these days, you can perform Shiva Abhishekam at home in the evening for Shiva’s blessings. Each one of Shiva Abhishekam items carries a deep significance.
Spiritual significance of Shivlingam Abhishek
The Shivalingam denotes the union of Soul (Purusha) or Self with Consciousness (Prakruti) or material nature. Abhishek signifies the tapas that an individual has to do to realize the Self. Shiva Abhishek benefits a devotee in that the process cleanses the devotee of all limitations, negativities, vrittis, illusions and definitions. Every Abhisheka takes the worshipper closer to the Self and realize his union with the Paramatma. It is separation of the Atma from the Paramatma that is the cause of all sufferings. Each one of Shiva Abhishek items carries a deep meaning. On occasion of Shivratri, let us review the Abhishek vidhi and learn why these puja items are used.
Milk – Providing the benefit of long life, it signifies nourishment. Nourishing our mind with positive thoughts, knowledge of scriptures, it helps the mind become stronger.
Honey – Helping remove sorrow and problems from life, it signifies the sweetness one needs to erase the painful memories of past.
Bhasma – Brings detachment from the material world in order to realise the true Self
Chandan – Signifies purifying oneself and filling oneself up with divine fragrance
Curd – Signifies the art to preserve and cherish the beautiful experiences of life
Sugar – Is known to remove enmity, it signifies ability to adapt with every situation
Ghee – helps attain moksha, reminds us that one’s biggest goal is to realize the Self/soul.
Turmeric – Helps in healing and signifies the protection or shield one needs to maintain to remain unaffected by negative thoughts.
Gingelly Oil – Known to bestow one with knowledge, it signifies the flexibility one needs to remain open to new experiences and knowledge.
Dhatura – signifies one’s capacity to absorb negativity thrown by the world
Bel Patra – Signifies the surrendering of the three Gunas- Sattva, Rajas and Tamas
Coconut – Represents purification of body, mind and senses