Maagha Snaanaas: Commencing from Pousha Shukylaikaadashi or Purnima or Amaavaasya, Maagha Snaanaas would continue upto Maagha Dwaadashi or Purnima; or else Maagha Snaanaas could take place from Makara Sankramana to Kumbha Sankarana. The Snaana Kaala should be at Arunodaya to Praatah kaala; it is emphasised that bathing in the waters at the time of Suryodaya would purify even those who are the sinners of Brahma hatya or Suraa paana; any human being irrespective of caste, age or sex could take Maagha Snaanaas. Again the Snaana Phala as per the type of waters at different places are stated as follows: Taptena Vaarinaa snaanam yadgrihey kriyatey naraihi, Shadbadam phaladam taddhi Makarasye Divaakarey/ Vyaapadou Dwaadashaabda phalam Tadaagey taddwigunam Nadyaam tadtrigunam, Mahaanadyaam Shatagunam Maha Nad sangamey tadchaturgunam/ Gangaayaam Sahasra gunam angaa Yamunaa sangamey yetadcchadgunamiti, Yatra krutraapi snaaney Prayaaga smaranamkaryam/ Idam Samudrepyati prashasttam/ ( Maagha Snaanaas with hot waters at one’s own home would allow the fruits of six years; Well Snaanaas of twelve years; Tataaka (Water body) Snaana Phala twice over; Nadi Snaanaas by four times; Snaanaas at Maha Nadis bestow the Punya by four times; Ganga Snana by thousand times; Snaanaas at Ganga-Yamuna Sangama by another hundred times while any Snaana anywhere in waters should be announced as Prayaga Snaana. But the best Snaana ever is in the Seas / Oceans. The Snaana vidhi is to resolve with the the ‘sankalpa’: Maagha Maasa mimam Punyam snaasyeham Deva Madhava, Tirthasyaasya jaley nityamati Sankalpya chetasi/--Duhkha daaridrya naashaaya Vishno- stoshanaayacha, Paatahsnaanm karomyadya Maaghe Paapa Vinaashanam/ Makarasthey Ravou Maaghey Govindyaachyuta Maadhava, Snaaneynaanena mey Deva Mayokta phalado bhava/ ( Hey Madhava! As I have resolved that I would perform Snaanaas every day during the entire Maagha maasa, I shall do so to alleviate my sorrows and poverty as also to please you. Do grant me Govindaayhuta Madhava! the Snaana Phala as per your pleasure if I deserve). The regulations to be followed in this Vrata are to sleep on the ground, defray the ‘nitya naimittika’ duties including Tila-Ghrita Homaas, Deva Tarpanas, Havishyaashana or eat only the havishya bhojana, and observe Brahma charya during the month of Magha Snaanaas. Also performing daanaas of Vastra-Paada raksha- Chhatra-Ghrita-Tila Purna Ghata-Suvarna and Anna as also of Dampati Pujaas are among the requirements of the Maagha Snaanaas.
Kumbha Sankranti: As already described in reference to Ardhodaya Yoga above, Kumbha Sankranti occurs on Maagha Amavasya and some sixteen ghadiyas before that is stated to be the Punya Kaala; Prayaga Veni Snaanaas are significant at the Kumbha . Skanda Purana in its Naagara Khanda states: Maaghaamaasyaam Mrigey Bhaanou Mesha Raashimatey Gurou/ Kumbha Yoge bhaveyttatra Prayaageytwati durlabhah/ In Maagha Month Prayaaga Kshetra witnesses the Kumbha Sankranti where there is the Sangam or confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna Rivers: Sitaasmitey tu yassnaanaam Maagha Maasey Yudhishtara, Na teshaam punaraavrittihi Kalpa koti shatairapi/ ( Krishna Bhagavan assured Yudhishtara of Maha Bharata fame that the Sweta-Krishna Ganga-Yamuna Sangama Snaana on the Kumbha Sankramana time would signify that there would not be rebirths for crore Kalpa kaalaas together!) The Punya that accrues to the Maagha Snaana at Prayaga is equivalent to the Kumbha Snaana at Kurukshetra Ganga and ten times better than the Gangaa Snaana at Vindhyaachalaas and hundred times superior than that of Kashi Ganga Snaana! On the occasion of Kumbha Sankranti Tila Patra daana is stated to be of high significance: Taamra paatreytilaan krutwaa pala shodasha nirmitey Sa Hiranyam Swa Shaktyaavaa Vipraaya pratipaadayet/( Tila daana in a copper vessel along with Hiranya Dakshina to a Vipra is the requirement on this occasion). While offering the Daana after Vipra Puja, the Prayer to Bhagavan Vishnu is: Deva Deva Jagannaadha! Vaanchitaartha phalaprada, Tila Paatram pradaasyaami tavaagrey samshitohyaham/ (Deva Deva! The Provider of all my desires: I am hereby offering the Tila Paatra Daana under your own auspices!) Further Prayer states: Tilaah Punyaah pavitraascha Sarva Paapa Haraah smritaah, Shuklaaschaiva tathaakrishnaa Vishnu gaatra samudbhavaah/ Yaanikaanicha Paapaani Brahma hatyaa samaanicha, Tila paatra pradaanena taani nashyantu mey sadaa/ ( The white and black Tilaas are generated from Vishnu’s body itself and thus are of unique propitiousness and sin-destroying; this is why I resolve to offer the Tila Patra Daana).
Veni Daana at Prayaga: When any person pays a visit to the Maha Tirtha of Prayaga for the first
time, then a Prayaschitta is required be be observed by way of ‘Veni Samhaara’; this requirement is
for Garbhini Strees, children after their ‘Chudaa karma’ and ‘Sabhatrika Strees’-all in their first
visits. To the ‘Sabhatrika Strees’ women visiting along with their husbands would have to scissored
the ends of their head hairs by two inches after their husbands’ approval and after the Snaana should
perform Puja to the Sangama, place the kesha khandaas on a matted container in their palms and leave
the container in the Sacred Flow of the Sangama while Brahmanas bless them in response to their
prayer stating: Venyaam Veni pradaanena mama paapam vyapohatu, Janmaantareyshwapi sadaa
Soubhagyam mama Vardhataam/ (By way of this Veni daana to Triveni Sangama or at the confluence
of Ganga-Yamuna and the Antarvaahini Sarasvati, may my sins be destroyed and my Sowbhagya be
increased). Dharma Sindhu also describes that Deha Tyaaga at the Tirtha is ‘Swarga prada’. Jeevat -
Shadraaddha Vidhi or Shraaddha even when is alive in the case of those without progeny is also
prescribed by way of Pinda Daanaanta Godaanaas and Vishnu Dhyaana -Tila Snaana-Tila Homa-
Tilodaka Deva PujaaTarpanaas.
Dundhiraja Vrata and Vasanta Panchami : On Maagha Shukla Chaturthi, the Dhundhi Raaja-Ganesha Vrata is observed with Nakta Vrata and Puja at the Pradosha Kaala when Tila yukta Laddu and Tila ‘Padaardhaas’are offerd as Naivedya; as such Pradosha Vyapta Chaturthi is suitable. It is stated that Puja on this day is not less important than the Ganesha Chaturthi Vrata in Bhadrapada Shukla Chaturthi. Maagha Shukla Panchami is called Vasanta Panchami marking the beginning of Vasantotsavaas when Rati-Manmadha Puja too is prescribed too.
Ratha Saptami: Maagha Shuka Saptami popularly called Ratha Saptami has to be in Arunodaya or else the previous day’s Shashthi-Saptami yoga be considered as suitable for the Snaanaas provided the Saptami ghadiyas are not too far away from the Arunodaya of the previous day. The Arunodaya Snaana Mantra states: Yada Janma krutam paapam mayaa janmasu Janmasu, Tanmey Rogam cha shokam cha Maakarihantu Saptami/ Yetatjjanmakrutam paapam yaccha janmaantaraarjitam, Manovaakkaayajam yaccha jnaataajnaatey cha ye punah/Iti Sapta vidham paapam Snaanmey Sapta Saptikey, Sapta Vyaadhi samaayuktam hara Maakari Saptami / (May the entirety of my sins accumulated in my present and previous births on account of conscious and unconscious acts or those perpetrated by my vocal or mental roots be dissolved on this Makara Saptami and may this Sacred Snaana with my earnest and heartfelt supplications and obeisances to you Surya Deva, in the form of Seven kinds of Sins and Seven types of Diseases be destroyed for ever!). The Arghya Mantra to the ‘Pratyaksha Devata’ Bhagavan Surya states: Sapta Saptivaha preeta Saptaloka pradeepana, Saptami sahito Deva gruhanaarghya Divaakara/ (Divaakara! You are affectionate of riding on the chariot drwan by Seven Horses with Seven Names and bestow splendour to Seven Lokaas obviously fond of the numeral of Seven; Bhagavan! may I have the privilege of offering ‘Arghya’ on this Saptami Tithi to mark my reverence!
Maagha Shukla Bhishmaashtami is obeserved with Bhimoddishya Shraaddha Tarpanaas only by those Grhastis who have children alive; but otherwise considered as compulsory. But Maagha Shukla Dwadashi is to be noted as significant for Tila Snaana, Tila Puja to Vishnu, Tila Naivedya, Tila Taila Deepa Daana, Tila Homa, Tila Daana, and Tila Bhakshana.
Maagha Snaanodyaapana or the Formal Termination of Maagha Snaanaas with worship to Surya Deva with the Sankalpa stating: Savitrey prasavitrey cha Paramdhaama Jaley mama, Twattejasaa paribhrashtam Paapam yaatu Sahasradha/Diwaakara Jagannaatha Prabhaakara Namotutey, Paripurnam karishyeham Maagha Snaanam tadaagayaa/ On Shukla Chaturdashi the Kartaas intending to perform the Udyaapana and on thefollowing Purnima accomplish Ashtottara Shata Homa and offer thirty ‘Vayanaas’ of Tila-Sharkara Modakaas and Shadrasa Bhojanaas and Vastra Daanaas to Brahmanaas and Suvasinis with the recital of the Mantra: Suryomey preeyataam Devo Vishnu Murti Niranjanah, Itih/ Evam Maaghaplavi yaati bhitwaa Devam Divaakaram, Parivraadyoga yuktascha Ranechaabhi mukho hatah/ ( Those who have successfully concluded this Maagha Snaana Vrata or Yogis or Parivraajakaas or those who never looked back waging a battle and attain Veera Swarga are all acclaimed as breaking through the Surya Mandala!)
Shiva Raatri Vrata: Shiv Raatri has to extend into the Nisheeha or mid- night, that is two ghadiyaas past the fourteen ghadiyas therebefore; of such time extension occurs then Shiva Raatri is reckoned as on the following day or therewise on the preceding day. This significant day coinciding with Sun Day or Tuesday attains added Shiva Yoga. A person intending to implement the Shiva Raatri Vrata needs to observe ‘Ekabhukta’or single meal on the Trayodashi and having done the Nitya karmaas in the morning of Chaturdashi and recite a Mantra Purvaka Sankalpa: Shva Raatri Vratam hyetat karishyehum Mahaa Phalam, Nirvighnam kuru Devaatratwat prasaadaa Jagatpatey/ Chaturda-shyaam niraahaaro bhutwaa Shambho parehani, Bhaksheyham Bhuki Muktyartham Sharanam my Bhaveshwara! (Jagadeshwara! This is my resolve to perform the most propitious Shiva Raatri Vrata and pray that with your grace the Vrata be completed without any kind of obstacles! I further resolve that on shall keep up fast on Chaturdashi and conclude it next forenoon only after the completion of of the formalities. Do bless me to achieve fulfillment!). Then the Vrata Karta should take Tila Snaana again, keep ‘Tripundra Bhasma’ on the forehead and Rudraaksha Maalaas, enter Shivaalaya /Pujaa Griha at the Pradosha Time, be seated as ‘Uttaraabhimukha’, after ‘Aachamana’ and Sankalpa with Shiva preetyartham Shiva Raatrou Shiva Pujaam karishye and initiate the Puja:
Prathama Yaama Puja: The Text of the Puja is: Asya Shri Shiva Panchaakshari Maha Mantrasya, Vaama Deva Rishih, Anushthup chhandaha Shri Sadaa Shivo Devataa, Nyaasey Pujaney Japey viniyogah, Vaama Devaaya Rishiye namah, Shirasi Anushthupcchandasey namah; Mukhey Shreem Sadaa Shiva Devataayai namah, Hridi Om Nam Tatpurushaaya namah, Hridaye Om Nam Aghoraaya,Paadayoh Om shim Sadyojaataaya namah, Guhye Om Vaam Vaama Devaaya namah, Murdhini Om yam Ishaayaaya namah, Mukhey Om Om Hridayaaya namah, Om Nam Shirase swaaha, Om mam Shikhaayai vashat, Om shim Kavachaaya hum, OmVaam Netratrayaaya voushat, Om Astraaya phat/ This was how ‘Nyaasa’ was done, then perform Kalasha Puja and take to Dhyaana: Dhyaaye nityam Mahesham Rajata giri nibham chaaru Chandraavatamsam, Ratnaakalpojjvalaangam Oparashu Mrigahraabheeti hastam prasannam/ Padmaaseenam Samantaatsutamamara Ganair vyaaghrakruttim vasaanam,Vishvaadyam Vishwa vandyam nikhila bhaya haram Pancha Vaktram Trinetram/ After Dhyaana, Shiva Linga Prana Pratishtha be done while touching the Linga and performing Aavahana: Om Bhuh Purusham Saamba Sadaa Shiva maavaahayaami,Om Bhuvah Saamba Sadaa Sadaa Shiva maavaahayaami, Om Swaaha Saamba Sadaa maavaahayaami, Om Bhur-bhuvahswaha Saamba Sadaa Shiva maavaahayaami/ Pushpaanjali: Swaamin Sarva Jagannaatha Yaavat Pujaavasaanakam,Taawatwam preetibhaavena Lingesminsannithim kuru/ Upachaaraas (Services): Om Sadyojaatam prapadyaami Sadyojaataayavai namonamah-Aasanam samarpayaami Om namasshivaaya; Om bhavey bhavey naati bhavey bhavaswaam Om Namasshivaaya Paadyam samarpayaami; Om Bhavodbhavaaya Om Namasshivaaya Arghyam samarpayaami; Om Vaama Devaaya namah Om Namasshivaaya Aachamaneeyam samarpayaami;Om Jyeshthaaya namah Om Namasshivaaya Snaanam samarpayaami . These Upachaaraas would be followed by the Mula Mantraas as also Panchaamrita Snaanaas with Aapyaayasva Mantraas and Shuddhodaka Snaanaas with Aapohishthaa Mantraas. Brahmanaas would then render group recitals of Ekaadashi (or atleast one) Rudraas and Purusha Sukta while performing Abhishekaas mixed with Chandana-Kumkuma-Karpura waters. The Abhishekaas shall follow Tarpanaas as follows: Om Bhavam Devam Tarpayaami, Om Sharvam Devam Tarpayaami, Om Ishaanam Devam Tarpayaami, Om Pashupatim Devam Tarpayaami,Om Ugram Devam Tarpayaami, Om Rudram Devam Tarpayaami, Om Bhimam Devam Tarpayaami, OmMahaantam Devam Tarpayaami,Om Bhavasya Devasya Patneem Tarpayaami, Om Sharvasya Devasya Patneem Tarpayaami, Om Ishanasya Devasya Patneem Tarpayaami, Om Pashupater -devasya Patneem Tarpayaami, Om Ugrasya Devasya Patneem Tarpayaami, Rudrasya Devasya Patneem Tarpayaami,Om Bhimasya Devasya Patneem Tarpayaami,Om Mahato Devasya atneem Tarpayaami/ Tarpanaanta Puja is executed then: Om Shreshthaa namah, Om Namasshivaaya, Shri Saamba Shivaaa namah Vastram samarpaaami/ Om Namasshivaaya Aachamaneeyam, Om Rudraaya Om Namasshivaaya Yagnopaveetam, Om Kaalaaya Namah Om Namasshivaaya Shri Chandanam, Om Balavikaranaaya Om Namasshivaaya Akshataan Samarpayaami, Om Balavika -ranaaya Namah Om Namasshivaaya Pushpaani –Bilva dalaani Samarpayaami .This Service with Pushpa-Bilwa-Akshataas should be offered while reciting Shivaashtottaraa- Sahasra Naamaavalis. There after other Services should follow: Om Balaayanamah Dhupamaa ghrapayaami, Om Bala -pramathanaaya namah Deepam darshayaami, Om Sarva Bhuta damanaayanamah Naivedyam samarpayaami, Om Manonmanayaa namah Taambulam samarpa –yaami, Om namasshivaa Vedaahametam Saamraajya bhojjyam Shri Saambashivaayanamah Neeraajanam darshayaami, and the Mantra Pushpam samarpayaami viz. Om Ishaanassarva- Vidyaanaam Ishwarassarva Bhutaa -naam Brahmaadipatih Brahmanodhipatih Brahmaa Shivomey astu Sadaa Shivom/ The Prathama Yaama Puja would thus be concluded by reciting the Twelve significant Shiva Naamaas viz: Shivaaya namah, Rudraaya namah, Pashuopataye namah, Neelakanthaaya namah, Maheshwa raaya namah, Hari keshaaya namah, Virupaakshaaya namah, Pinaakiney namah, Tripuraantakaaya namah,Shambhavey namah, Shuliney namah and Maha -Devaaya namah/ Finally after Aparaadha Kshamaa- Pradakshina-Saashtaanga Namaskaaraas, the Karta would leave Akshataas and water on the ground stating: Anena Pujanena Shri Saamba Sadaa Shiva preeyataam/ Three more Yaama Pujas should be accomplished on the same lines with Jaagaranas, Hara naama Stutis, Purana Vachana especially of Shiva,Linga, Skanda, Markandeya orientations, Bhajanaas and so on with full involvement. Next morning after Nitya Karmas and Punah Pujaas, Paarana- Brahmana Bhojana Daanaas are concluded and the Vrata samapti be fulfilled by dedicating it to Maha Deva: Yanmaadyakrutam Punyam tadrudrasya Niveditam, Tatprasaadaan Maha DevaVratamadya samarpitam, Prasanno bhavamey Shriman sadgatih pratipaadyataam/ Twadaalokana maatrena Pavbitrosmi na samshayah/ ( What ever Sukruti is achieved by this Vrata is dedicated to you as I am purified by your grace without doubt; do kindly accept my offerings and bestow Sadgati to me.) Samsaara klesha dagdhashya Vratenaanena Shankara, Praseeda Sumukho Naatha Jnaana drishti padobhava/ ( Shankara! Kindly be pleased with this Vrata executed by me as per my ability and devotion; Parameshwara! As I am in the deep distress of the Ocean of ‘Sansaara’, do kindly grant me ‘Jnaanaa Drishti’ and liberate me with your grace and benevolence!).
Parthiva ( Mrinmaya) Linga Puja: It was stated that in Dwapara Yuga Rasa Linga was popular but in Kali Yuga Shiva Lingas are earthen. The Puja Vidhana of Parthiva Lingas is prescribed as under; at the outset, the Shiva Linga is installed on a Platform worthy of worship decorated with Bilwa leaves by saying : Om Shula Paanaye namah Shiveha pratishthito bhava and meditate Bhagavan Mahesha with the Mula Mantra and the Panchaakshari of Om Namasshivaaya. Then the ‘Upachaaraas’like Paadya-Arghya-Aachamaniya-Snaana- Vastra-Yagnopaveeta- Gandha-Pushpa- Dhupa-Deepa-Naivedya-Phala- Taambula-Neeraajana-Mantra Pushpaanjalis along with appropriate Mantraas in making the various offerings. The Pujaas are made to Bhagavan in various Dishaas / Directions: salute the Eastern side with the Prayer of Sharvaaya Kshiti (Earth) murthaye namah ; to Ishaanya side with Bhavaaya Jala (Water) Murthaye namah; to the Northern side with the prayer of Rudraayaagni(Fire) murthaye namah; to Vaayavya side with Ugraaya Vaayu (Wind) murtaye namah; to the western side with Bhimaayaakaasha (Sky) murtaye namah; to Nirruti Dasha with Pashupataye Yajamaana (Yama) murtaye namah; to Dakshina / Southern side with the Supplication of Maha Devaaya Soma (Chandra) murtaye namah; to Ishaanaaya Surya murthaye namah and to Agneya with sincere obeisances to Maha Devaaya namah/
Shiva Linga Visesha Phalaas: Construction of a Vajra Linga bestows longevity; Mouktika Linga assures Roga naashana; Vaidurya Linga gives Shatru naashana; Padmaraaga Linga grants Lakshmi or Ishwarya; Puspa raaga happiness; Indra Nila fame; Marakata Linga excellent health; Sphatika Linga fulfills all kinds of desires; Silver Lingaas Kingships and Pitru Mukti; Hema Linga affords Satyaloka; Copper Lingas provide excellent physique and ‘Aayushya’; Brass Lingas give ‘Tushti’or Fulfillment in Life; Shiva Lingas made of glass provide name and fame; Loha Lingaas destroy enemies; Lingaas made of Lead bless with long and healthy life and so on. Also, Gandha Lingas provide ‘Sowbhagya’ or propitiousness, Gaja danta or ivory Lingas grant ‘Senaadhipatya’or Military Authority, Rice/Wheat flour Lingas pushti and killer of illnesses, Pulse flour made Lingas accord ‘Stree Laabha’, Butter made Lingas afford happiness, Jaggery-Rice Lingas bestow Vamsha Vriddhi and so on.