The sacred ash, which adorns the bodies of Lord Shiva and Shaivites, is very sacred and there are recipes on how to adore and adorn oneself. Here are a few. The two forms of adornment with sacred ashes are the tripundram, uddulanam. The first is to apply the sacred ash in the form of three different bands and the second to sprinkle on the body part.
A simple way would be to sing thirunirruppadhikam by taking the sacred ashes and decorating it with the song of the aghora panchaxaram (The Five Sacred Letters of the Aghora), which is shivaya namah.
With clean hands, take the sacred ashes by singing the sadyojadadi mantras and the non-mahantam mantra of shri rudram.
Those who perform rituals, perform shiva pUja should first take the holy ash without adding water and sprinkle on their head, forehead, chest and two shoulders. Later using the right hand index, middle and the ring finger take the holy ash, keep in the left hand, close it with right hand and chant these mantras.
om nivriti kalayai namah
om pratishta kalayai namah
om vidya kalayai namah
om shanti kalayai namah
om shantyatIta kalayai namah
om ishanaya namah
om tatpurushaya namah
om aghoraya namah
om vamadevaya namah
om sadyojadaya namah
om hridayaya namah
om shirashe namah
om shikayai namah
om kavachaya namah
om netraya namah
om astraya namah
Then, saying hridayaya namah, add water and say kavachaya vaushat, mix it up. Sing the first four of the panchabrahma mantram mentioned above and apply (with the three fingers of the right hand mentioned above – index, middle and ring finger) the sacred ash paste to the first four places of the body. (See below for a list of places to apply sacred ash). Sing the fifth mantra when you apply it to other parts of the body. While applied face up, so that the sacred ash does not spill on the floor. If, by mistake, the sacred ash spills onto the floor, clean it with water.
The places to apply the holy ash on the body
vibhuti can be worn either in 32 places or 16 places or 8 places or five places.
Two sides of groin
Total 32 Places
Total 16 places
Total 8 places
Total 5 places
One of the ways of taking bath as prescribed by vedas is known as Agneyam. It is defined as Agneyam bhasmasnAnam. That is Agneyam bath is nothing but bathing in the holy ash.
The holy ash has very good medicinal value. This could prevent/cure 81 diseases that are out of air (vAta), and 64 of diseases caused by bile(pittam), and 215 of phlegm (kapham).
The Holy Ash is the most ancient symbol. It is hailed in the vedas along with rudraxam. Even the devotees of Lord vishnu used to wear this originally (kariyameni michai veliya niru chiridheyidum periya kolath thadankannan, niru chevve idakkanil nedumaladiyar enrodum – divya prabhandham). The following scriptures talk about the glory of the Holy Ash.
The scriptures that hail Holy Ash:
bharadvAja – sAtAtapa – parAchara
shivarahasya parama itihAsam