Masik or Masa Shivaratri translates to ‘monthly night of Lord Shiva’. On the 14th day of each month, during the Krishna Paksha (waning moon half), devotees of Lord Shiva observe a fast and pray to gain control over their senses and restraint their malicious feelings of anger, jealousy, pride, and greed.
It is the darkest night of the month before the new moon. It is an opportunity for one to limit and restrain and embark on a spiritual path to be one with the lord.
Devotees can start their fast from the day of Mahashivaratri (grand night of Lord Shiva) and then continue it all year-round.
Unlike many other Hindu festivals, Masik Shivaratri is not celebrated with a grand feast and great fanfare. It is a day when devotees of Lord Shiva keep fasts and spend their time in meditation. They stay awake for the whole night chanting the Lord’s name and performing puja.
There are a lot of things you might not know about this auspicious day, so here we are to enlighten you and tell you all there is to know about the Masik Shivaratri fast and its dates for the upcoming months.
Masik Shivaratri 2020 Dates and Time
As per the Hindu Calendar, Chaturdashi Tithi during the Krishna Paksha of every month is the day of Masik Shivratri. There are 12 masik Shivratris in a year and every month has its significance.
|Masik Shivratri 2020 in November||Nov 13-14||Kartika,Krishna Chaturdashi||Begins – 17:59, Nov 13Ends – 14:17, Nov 14|
|Masik Shivratri 2020 in December||Dec 13-14||Margashirsha,Krishna Chaturdashi||Begins – 03:52, Dec 13Ends – 00:44, Dec 14|
The devotees fast throughout the day, morning till night, and only break their fast the next morning by eating the prasad.
Types of Shivaratri
There are four types of Shivaratri observed in the Hindu Religion according to the Skanda Purana.
The first is Nitya Shivaratri which is observed daily. Second is Masik Shivaratri which is observed monthly. The third is Magha Shivaratri which is observed in the month of Magha (January/February). The fourth and the main is Mahashivaratri that occurs on the 14th day of Magha Shivaratri.
What To Eat During Masik Shivaratri Fast
While most people keep a ‘nirjala’ fast, that is, no food and water throughout the day, not many can do that. The consumption of sattvik food is encouraged during fasting.
Majority people consume fruits, certain vegetables, milk and non-grain items during their fast.
List of things that you can eat while observing the Masik Shivratri fast:
There are endless dishes that have potatoes as the main ingredient. But one must keep in mind to make only those dishes that do not involve the use of onion, garlic, ginger or turmeric. You can use rock salt or ‘sendha namak’ during the fast.
- Non-grain/cereal dishes
Use of ragi, sabudana (sago) and buckwheat are permitted during the fast. Some popular dishes that you can make using these are sabudana khichdi, vada, tikki and kuttu singhare ki puri.
- Milk desserts
Milk is of utmost importance during Shivratri as Lord Shiva was fond of milk, as per beliefs. Devotees also offer it to the Shiva lingam. Milk beverages and desserts can be consumed while fasting. Some options are thandai, badam doodh (almond milk), sabudana kheer.
The use of cumin or cumin powder, black pepper powder, green cardamom, cinnamon, ajwain (carom seeds), black peppercorn is permissible. You can add a dash of sendha namak for flavour.
- Fruits and Dry Fruits
Most people who cannot keep a ‘nirjala’ fast opt for ‘fallahar’. ‘Fhal’ means fruits in Hindi. Fhallahar is a meal that contains fruits, milk and water. Devotees can consume fruit chaats, fruit shakes and salads. Besides, you can also eat dry fruits such as almonds, cashews, walnuts and so on.
What Not To Eat During Masik Shivaratri Fast
You are not permitted to eat salt, rice, wheat, pulses, lentils and meat when you are observing the Masik Shivaratri fast.
Things To Do During The Masik Shivratri Fast
- The first thing in the morning is to take a bath with water boiled with black sesame seeds. It helps remove the impurities from the body. After taking a bath, you should set up the altar for prayer and offerings.
- Offer Ganga water, milk, ghee, curd, honey, turmeric powder, vibhuti, rosewater to the Shiva linga, or idol of Lord Shiva. You can also visit the temples of Lord Shiva and sing hymns, praises, and bhajans to invoke the Lord’s blessings. The best offerings for Lord Shiva are incense sticks, blowing of the conch, ringing bells, home-made prasad, coconut, and fragrant flowers.
- Devotees often apply sacred ash (vibhuti) on their foreheads.
- Chant Om Namah Shivaya throughout the day. It is a belief that chanting this mantra helps the person to be absolved of their previous sins. Along with this, one must also meditate to free their mind of evil and unnecessary thoughts.
Things To Avoid During The Masik Shivratri Fast
- Wearing Black
According to Hindu scriptures, black is considered an inauspicious colour. Hence, devotees must not wear black clothes while visiting the temple or fasting.
- Do not eat the prasad offered to the Shivling
Eating the prasad right after offering it to the deity is a common practice. But during Masik Shivratri or Mahashivaratri, one must avoid eating the prasad that has been offered to the shiva linga as it brings bad luck and diseases.
- Do not offer Tulsi
According to Hindu scriptures, tulsi (holy basil) is an offering made only to Lord Vishnu, and therefore must not be offered to Lord Shiva.
- Do not use Champa and Ketaki flowers
Champa and Ketaki flowers are cursed by Lord Shiva. Ketaki flower was cursed by him for bearing a false witness of Lord Brahma. It is also advised to keep oneself away from worldly desires and pleasures and submit spiritually as well as mentally and physically to Lord Shiva.
Important Rules of Masik Shivaratri Fast
- Consumption of alcohol and tobacco is strictly prohibited.
- One must get up early in the morning, take a bath, and wear clean clothes.
- The person keeping the fast must take a bath before performing the puja at night.
- One must fast with sincerity and devotion towards Lord Shiva.
- The person observing the fast must maintain celibacy.
Method(Vidhi) of Masik Shivaratri Fast
All the puja ingredients, Ganga Jal or regular water, raw milk, honey(optional), Curd (optional), Ghee (optional), Datura flowers (if available), Bilva leaves (if available), Madar (white crown flowers, if available) Chandan, two pieces of fresh cloth, Janeu (optional) and incense stick must be assembled on trays or plates.
Apart from these, you would also need Agarbatti, dhoop, oil lamp, oil, fruits, coconut, paan and supari etc.
Sitting in front of the deity with folded hands and closed eyes, one must take the pledge (sankalp) to keep the fast with utmost sincerity and devotion.
To invoke Lord Shiva, you have to meditate, light an oil lamp, and begin the offering (abhishek) with water, milk, honey, curd and ghee.
Then, gently wipe the idol with a piece of fresh cloth and offer Chandan, another piece of fresh cloth, Janeu, flowers and Bilva leaves and incense.
Chant the Shiva mantras, followed by the Shivaratri Vrat Katha and conclude by singing the Shiva aarti.
- Keep yourself well-hydrated
Unless you are keeping a ‘nirjala’ fast, you must drink at least eight glasses of water as it washes wastes and toxins from the body and purifies it. If you are not having anything other than water, the intake must be increased as it replaces the body’s requirement of other things and helps you stay energized throughout the day without feeling hungry.
- Avoid strenuous physical activity
It is better to avoid doing a heavy workout or some challenging physical activity to remain active for the whole day with no/minimum intake of food.
- Consumption of liquids
You can consume juices, milk, milkshakes, tea, yogurt, or buttermilk to help get through your fast. Liquids are an excellent choice for people who cannot keep hungry or suffer from some health issues.
- Eat light
You should include fruits and light meals in your fast. Food that is raw or chewy must be avoided. The act of chewing makes the digestive system release digestive juices that give rise to hunger pangs.
- Prepare yourself
It is important to prepare yourself mentally before observing the fast. You should stay calm and stress-free and spend your time in meditation.
Why Masik Shivaratri Fast is Important
Lord Shiva is most commonly known as the destroyer, but he is also the most compassionate and kind.
Fasting on Masik Shivratri is considered very auspicious and powerful. It is believed that if you chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ for the entire day and night, it will help keep you away from worldly desires and temptations.
Worshippers of Lord Shiva observe this fast for a speedy recovery from any illnesses, good health and lifelong happiness.
Another belief is that the person can attain salvation and liberation from all the misfortunes of life by keeping this fast.
Unmarried women observe this fast to gain an ideal life partner. On the other hand, married women keep it to maintain peace and tranquillity in their married life.
According to Hindu mythology, observing a fast on Shivratri helps the person to gain control over ‘rajas guna’ (the quality of passionate activity) and ‘tamas guna’ (the quality of ignorance). During the fast, the mind is in complete control and free from malicious thoughts. By keeping a vigil throughout the night, the person acquires the strength to avoid the evils of ‘tamas guna’.
Health Benefits of Fasting on Shivaratri
Apart from the spiritual benefits of fasting on Shivaratri, fasting, in general, has a lot of health benefits:
- Fasting can help you lose weight
When you are observing the Masik Shivaratri fast, you consume healthy foods, like fresh fruits. There is also a reduction in calorie intake.
- Low salt consumption is healthy for the heart
Heart health improves due to reduced salt consumption. As the foods eaten during the Masik Shivratri fast contain minimum salt (sendha namak), salt-sensitive hypertension is controlled.
- Fasting can help detoxify the body
Consumption of healthy food also helps in detoxifying the body. During fasting, there is less intake of unhealthy, processed junk food. When you detoxify your body, it helps in reducing the free-radical activity that further helps in keeping the risk of diseases away.
- Fasting can reduce bloating
Since during the Shivratri fast, salt is not consumed, it helps reduce bloating and water retention in the body. Reduction in bloating can help relieve indigestion and improper bowel movements.
Tale(s) Behind Masik Shivaratri
There are many beliefs and mythological anecdotes that explain why this day is celebrated.
There was once a feud between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu regarding who among them is superior. Suddenly, a pillar of fire appeared before both of them. The origin and end of the pillar were nowhere to be seen. It was decided that whosoever finds one end of the pillar would be the superior.
Lord Brahma took the shape of a swan to find the top while Lord Vishnu transformed himself into a boar to figure out the bottom. None of them was successful in their search. However, Lord Brahma lied that he had seen the top.
Lord Shiva revealed that it was he who had manifested as the pillar. As a punishment for lying, Lord Shiva cursed Lord Brahma that no one would worship him and no temples would be dedicated to him on earth.
On the day of Chaturdashi Tithi, Krishna Paksha, Lord Shiva’s lingam form came into being for the very first time. Henceforth, the day has been celebrated as the day of birth of Lord Shiva or the Shiva linga.
Another tale regarding this day is that during the Samudra Manthan (Churning of the ocean that took place during the war between the Gods and Asuras) a pot of poison emerged that was going to destroy the earth. Lord Shiva swallowed the poison and held it in his throat, turning it blue. Therefore, he is often referred to as Neelkanth.
One popular belief is that Masik Shivaratri is celebrated in remembrance of the Tandava Nritya performed by Lord Shiva. Hence, many people worship ‘Nataraja’ (a dancing form of Lord Shiva) on this day.
Some say it is the day Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati got married.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
You can drink milk-based beverages while observing the fast. But, as coffee is a foreign product, you should avoid it. You can also have fresh fruit juices.
No. Oats is a whole grain and muesli is a combination of nuts, dried fruits, seeds and oats. Since consuming grains is forbidden, you cannot eat oats and muesli.
Poha is dehusked rice which is flattened into dry flakes. Rice is not permitted during the Masik Shivaratri fast, so you cannot eat poha.
Suji is made from dried durum wheat, so you cannot have it during the fast.
There are no restrictions on what kind of oil you have to use while cooking food during the fast.
If you are observing this fast, it is advised to spend your day worshipping and in the devotion of Lord Shiva. You should not waste the day doing unnecessary things like playing games and watching movies. Instead, you must meditate and invoke god’s blessings.
Observing the Masik Shivaratri fast is known to help you overcome difficult situations and repel any problems that you might be facing in your life. But, you should not observe it just for your selfish reasons.
Despite the benefits you obtain from keeping this fast, this must also be done to worship Lord Shiva with sincerity and devotion.
Some people might be unaware that Masik Shivaratri fast exists and some others even after knowing it, might be unaware of its various characteristics.
Not many people are in the habit of fasting. They think of it as an archaic concept. But for those who still believe in fasting, its powers and its benefits, we hope this article helped you learn something new.
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