Knowing about MahaShivatri Pooja Vidhi
Most people fast on the auspicious day of Maha Shivratri. Over the years, the method of fasting has changed.  The procedure of Pooja has changed. It may not be the same as written in religious books.
Pooja Vidhi
On Mahashivrati day devotees visit Shankar temple early morning to offer prayers. They start gathering for shivratri pooja samagri a day before Maha Shivratri Pooja.
Devotees finish the Pooja of before noon. This is because the temples remain closed in the noon till evening to prepare for evening Darshan.
Shiva temples are open for the devotees for Darshan in the evening. During this time no puja activities are performed.
Morning Pooja
Devotees wake up early in the morning and perform Abhishek using water and milk along with other pooja items for mahashivratri like sandalwood powder etc. Devotees also offer Bilva leaves, Dhatura, Bilva fruit, thulasi, Mango leaves to Shiva Linga.
Devotees fast on this day and just eat fruits or take juices during the fast. Some people also believe that having a meal in the evening is fine.
Those who fast for the entire day on Mahashivratri and break the fast the next day, include offer Prasad to Lord Shiva which includes simple food like yellow gram flour curry, plain rice offered to the deity of Lord Shiva. After offering Prasad to the Lord, they break the fast having simple food.
This is the simple vidhi performed today, but there is also a strict Vidhi written in religious books. Read on to know about the Vidhi
Shiva Pooja
Shivaratri Pooja vidhi written in religious books
The Vidhi mentioned below has been fetched from different religious texts. You will find out the rituals suggested for Maha Shivratri Pooja in religious books
1. Only a one meal before the fasting day of Mahashivrati is recommended. This is suggested so that there is no undigested food remains in your digestive system on the fasting day
2. On the auspicious day of MahaShivaratri, you should wake up early morning and then take a bath. You can take a holy bath by adding seeds of black sesame into bathing water. As per the religious text, it purifies your body and soul.
3. Post bath, the devotees need to take Sankalp (pledge) that they will fast for the full day and only break their fast the very next day.
4. The Sankalp also means testing the self-determination of the devotees during the fast. Then they take Lord Shiva’s blessings to break the fast.
5. Devotees should avoid taking any food while fasting. In strict fasting, some devotees fast without water. Ideally, you can have milk and fruits during the fasting period.
6. Devotees need to take bath again in the evening and visit Shiva temple or perform Shiva Puja at home. In case you cannot visit the nearest temple, you can perform Linga Abhishek using ghee at home.
7. Shiva Pooja is ideally performed during the night.  Shiva Puja should be performed during late evening hours. Shivaratri Puja can be carried out 4 times during the night.
8. The Pooja Vidhi for Shiva Lingam Abhishek is carried out using different pooja items. The Abhishek is performed using sandalwood paste or sandalwood powder, ghee, honey, sugar yogurt and water. Those who perform 4 Prahar Puja, should carry out water Abhishek right during 1st Prahar, use curd for 2nd prahar Abhishek, ghee for 3rd prahar. Then honey to be offered for 4th prahar abhishek along with the other pooja items for mahashivratri.
9. Once Abhishek rituals are performed, Linga is decorated in temples with temple garland and bilva leaves garland. There is a belief that says Bilva leaves calms down the anger of Lord Shiva.
Then kumkum or chandan powder is used to apply it to Linga. Devotees also light diya and use Dhupa for Pooja. Some other shivratri pooja samagri items used to decorate Lord Shiva are Vibhuti, Aak and Bhasm etc. The mantra On Namah Shivay is chanted during the pooja.
Devotees break their fast on the next day of Mahashivrati post bath. The ideal time to break the MahaShivratri starts from sunrise till Chaturdashi Tithi ends to complete the fast successfully. You can follow the Pooja Vidhi to seek blessings from Lord Shiva.