Once Parvati asked lord Shiva as to which were the austerities when on being performed by a devotee, helps him to attain both worldly accomplishments as well as liberation.
Lord Shiva told her about ten austerities connected with his worship and their methods. He said- “On the eighth day of every month a devotee should worship me by observing a fast for the
whole day and breaking it in the night. But on Kalashtami a devotee must observe the fast for the
whole day and night. He must not have food on that day. On the eleventh day of the dark-lunar month, a devotee must worship me and observe fast during the day. He should break the fast in the night. But on the eleventh day of the bright lunar month, a devotee should observe a fast for the whole period of day and night. On the thirteenth day of dark-lunar month a devotee must observe fast for the whole period of day and night, whereas on the thirteenth day of a bright lunar
phase he should observe a fast during the day and break it in the night. A fast observed on
Monday should be broken only in the night.” Lord Shiva continued with his statements-
“Among all the austerities and fastings Mahashivaratri holds a supreme place. It falls on the fourteenth day of the dark lunar month of Phalgun. On this day the devotee should take a vow to observe a fast after awakening in the morning and finishing his daily choirs. He must observe a fast for the whole day and night. In the night he should worship me either in the temple or in his own home according to his convenience. He should worship me with the help of sixteen modes of worship (Shodasopachar). He should either chant the mantras of Laghurudra or perform
‘abhishek’ during the course of worship. While doing worship he should eulogize me and perform
‘artis’ in my praise. He can perform ‘abhishek’ with either of the followings – Milk, water, sacred water of belonging to a place of pilgrimage, sprinkling water with Kusha, Sugarcane juice, Honey and Ghee etc. The devotee should engage himself in my devotion for the whole day. In the end he should feed the brahmins and make donation to them. A fast observed in this way gives infinite virtues to the devotee.”
After observing fasts for fourteen consecutive years on each of the Shivaratri days, a devotee should perform ‘Uddyapan’ (religious rites performed on the accomplishment of an observance). On the day preceding the Uddyapan ceremony, a devotee must have food for one time. The next day a devotee should perform Uddyapan after making a religious vow and according to the appropriate methods. A devotee who performs Uddyapan in the above mentioned way attains to the Shivaloka.