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Why & When is Pradosh Vrat Observed?

Posted By ServDharm

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Posted on February 09 2022

Pradosha or Pradosham occurs twice a month in the Hindu calendar. The day occurs on the thirteenth day of the fortnight. This day is associated with the worship of Lord Shiva and Nandi, His biggest devotee. Pradosha typically lasts for a three-hour period starting from 1.5 hours before sunset and ending 1.5 hours after sunset. This duration is called pradosha kaal. The word pradosha means removal of sins.

The vrat or fast observed on this day during the Trayodashi Tithi is referred to as Pradosha vrat and is of great significance to Hindus. Devotees of the lord observe a day-long vrat to appease Him and his consort Goddess Parvati. Nandi also worshiped them on this day. 

Grand poojas are organized in Shiva temples in honour of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati and Nandi on the occasion of Pradosha. Their idols are also sometimes taken around the temple complex seated on Nandi in a procession. The Pradosham rituals begin during the evening or twilight hours and go on overnight. However, the vrat commences from the morning of the same day. Devotees stay up all night and actively engage themselves in all the rituals. 

According to a legend, it was on a Pradosha day that Lord Shiva freed the Moon god from a terrible illness because of the curse of a king. The Moon god engaged in rigorous penance and prayers to Shiva. Another story has it was on this day that the lord consumed the deadly poison that emerged during the churning of the ocean to save the world. There are several other pradosham related stories associated with Lord Shiva.

Pradosh Vrat is observed in different ways. Ardent devotees spend the whole day without eating food and sometimes even without drinking water. They stay up the whole night and chant several mantras of the lord along with recitation of the pradosha vrat katha. Some followers drink only water and have only the prasad after the evening puja. They have a proper meal only the following day. There are also those who consume only fruit in the morning and eat cooked food after the pooja or those who fast from sunrise to sunset. Food like garlic, onion and salt are often avoided. It is absolutely essential to stay away from meat, tobacco and alcohol during the vrat.

Devotees observing the fast wake up early during the Brahma Muhurat and clean their houses. After this, they take a bath and wear clean clothes. An idol of the god is placed on a raised altar and a kalash filled with Gangajal is placed in front of it along with a lit lamp. The pot is decorated with betel leaves around it. This is followed by chanting the Shiv chalisa, several Shiva mantras and reading the pradosha vrat katha or other Shiva puranas aloud with true fervour. The Maha Mrityunjaya mantra is often recited 108 times. Items like honey, ghee, curd and milk are offered to the idol or Shivalinga. Flowers and incense sticks are also placed in front of the deities. 

The vrat ends with a pooja at sunset. Worshippers get ready for the pooja by taking a bath one hour before sunset. After the pooja, devotees drink a little of the water from the kalash and apply some sacred ash on their foreheads. This is followed by going to a nearby Shiva temple for the lord’s darshan and to take part in the pradosham celebrations in the shrine. 

The name of the Pradosham depends on the day it occurs. For example, if it is on a Monday, the pradosham is known as Soma Pradosham. The pradoshams occurring on Mondays and Saturdays are of maximum significance. These pradoshams are called Soma Pradosham and Shani Pradosham respectively. Observing a Som Pradosha vrat helps the followers get rid of negative thoughts and have their desires fulfilled. On the other hand, devotees who observe the Shani Pradosh vrat are blessed with promotion at work and are able to regain their lost wealth. The Shani Pradosh vrat is the most important pradosha vrat.

Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are said to be in a happy mood on Pradosha day. Hindus firmly believe that observing the Pradosha vrat with utmost devotion helps them be freed of the sins committed by them in the past and present. Moreover, if a devotee performs all the vrat related rituals with conviction, then he/she is bestowed with wealth, good health and wisdom. The vrat also helps the observer to fulfil his/her desires. Childless couples are blessed with progenies.

Written by Deepthi K

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