Posted: October 29, 2009 in Fasting
PRADOSHA VRATA
By
(edited for clarity)
ALL THINGS in this vast creation function upon definite cosmic laws or laws of God. There is always a beautiful system and sound rationale governing every phenomenon and process, mundane or mystical. Just as the gross elements and physical forces operate differently under different states and conditions, so also the subtler and higher forces respond and react in the inner mystic planes, and in the purely spiritual processes like meditation, prayer, worship, etc. Therefore, you will find definite injunctions for performing certain types of worship in the morning, certain other injunctions for the midday prayers, and still others for the evening worship. Again, some observances are meant to be performed during certain phases of the moon, some when a particular star is in the ascendant, or at the time of a particular conjunction of planets.

The Pradosha worship is to be done in the evening twilight on the thirteenth day of each lunar fortnight. It is the worship of Lord Siva for victory and success in all undertakings, and the fulfilment of all your heart’s cherished desires. When you desire to obtain a favour from a superior person, don’t you naturally approach him at a moment when he is likely to be in a very pleasant frame of mind? You will perhaps see him after he has had a good dinner and is happily chatting with a friend in a hearty, expansive mood. Even so, the Hindu, especially the Hindu who is engaged in the motivated type of worship, usually selects the most pleasant aspect of God for his worship. He performs it at a time which the ancient Rishis experienced as being the most helpful and efficacious in propitiating the Deity. The Pradosha worship is based on such mystic psychology.

History of Pradosha Vrat or Why Observing Pradosham (One of the Reasons)

Pradosha is the worship of Lord Siva and Parvati when they both are in an extremely propitious mood. Repeatedly worsted in war by the demons, the gods approached Lord Siva to bless them with a leader for their celestial hosts. They came to the Lord at twilight on the thirteenth day of the lunar fortnight and found Him in the blissful company of His consort, Parvati. Hymned and glorified by them, Siva immediately granted their prayerful request. Hence, the extreme auspiciousness of the period.
The Skanda Purana relates how Sandilya Muni prescribed this Vrata to a certain Brahmin lady. She came to the sage with two boys, her son, Suchivrata, and an orphan prince, Dharmagupta, whose father was slain in battle and the kingdom overrun by enemies.

Acting upon the advice of the sage, the woman and the boys performed the Vrata with great devotion. After four months, that is, in the eighth Pradosha, Suchivrata obtained a pot of nectar and drank the divine ambrosia. Prince Dharmagupta won the hand of a celestial princess and, as ordered by Lord Siva, with the help of the celestial king himself, his enemies were slain and his kingdom restored to him. Then Dharmagupta attained the Lord’s supreme abode. So easily, and yet so greatly is the Lord of Kailas pleased by this Vrata.

One who takes this Vrata fasts on that day, and keeps vigil at night after the fast is over. Bathing an hour before sunset, the worshipper first performs a preliminary worship of Lord Siva, together with all the others of His divine family, namely, Parvati, Ganesha, Skanda and Nandi. After the worship of Ganesha, Lord Siva is invoked in the special kalasha placed on a square mandala with a lotus drawn in it and spread over with darbha grass. After the formal worship has been completed, a Pradosha story is read and heard by the devotees. This is followed by the recitation of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra 108 times. In the end the sacred kalasha water is partaken of, the sacred ash is applied to the forehead, and the water which was used to bathe the Lord, is drunk. A gift of a pot, a cloth and an image of the Lord is given to a Brahmin to conclude the worship.

A very important point to be remembered in this connection is that during this auspicious period all the hosts of celestial beings and gods come down from the heavens and attend the worship in their subtle forms. This adds immensely to the sanctity of the worship.

This Vrata is highly lauded by the scriptures and is of very great sanctity and importance to worshippers of Lord Siva. The mere sight of the Deity in a temple during this period will destroy all sins and bestow bountiful blessings and Grace upon the fortunate beholder. Even a single bael leaf offered to the Lord at this unique, auspicious moment equals a hundred Mahapujas. It is usual to have special additional lights in the shrine during the Pradosha. To light even a single wick at this juncture is highly meritorious and productive of untold benefits, spiritual as well as material. Most fortunate and blessed is the person who performs the Pradosha Vrata, for upon him Lord Siva showers His choicest Grace and blessings in a very short time.

________
Pradosha or Pradosham falls on the 13th lunar day (Trayodashi) during the waxing and waning phase of moon in the Hindu lunar calendar. Occurring between 4.30 pm to 6.00 pm on Trayodashi, the Pradosha time is propitious to pray Lord Shiva and invoke his blessings. It is believed that worshipping Lord Shiva at Pradosha time will relieve from sins and gives Moksha.
Among the poojas performed by the devotees of Lord Shiva, the Pradosha puja is considered to be more auspicious. It is believed that during Pradosha period all the universal beings and Gods come down to earth and attend the worship. The importance of observing Pradosha is described in Pradosha Mahatmyam from Shiva Purana and hence Shiva devotees observe Pradosha Pooja with high sanctity. Pradosha indicates the meeting of the Sun and the Moon in a horizontal line during their movement on their Axis.

Sani Pradosham

According to Hinduism, Lord Shiva swallowed the poison on a Saturday and this is called Sani Pradhosham or Shani Pradosha. Sani Pradosham is classified into Uthama Shani Pradhosham, Mathima Sani Pradhosham, and Athama Sani Pradhosham.

Uthama Sani Pradhosha is the Sani Pradhosham that comes during the Tamil month of Chithirai, Vaigasi, Ayppasi and Karthigai during the waxing period. Mathima Sani Pradhosham occurs during the Tamil month of Chithirai, Vaigasi, Ayppasi and Karthigai during waning period. All other Shani Pradhoshams come under this category Athama Shani Pradhosha.

Maha Pradhosham

Maha Pradhosha is a yearly rite which falls during February – March (Magha in Sanskrit, Kumbha Masam in Malayalam, and Maasi in Tamil) before Maha Sivarathri.


History of Pradosha Vrat or Why Observing Pradosham (0ne of the Reasons)

According to Hindu Puranas, the gods (Devas) and the demons (Asuras) were stirring the milky ocean to extract amirtam (nectar), with Vasuki (the serpent king) as a rope. As Vasuki underwent severe scratches due to the churning, she emitted a powerful poison which is capable of destroying the world. The helpless celestials pleaded Lord Shiva to save them. In order to save them, Lord Shiva swallowed the poison. Goddess Parvati stopped the poison in Lord’s throat and it is believed that his throat turned to blue. As a result of this, Lord Shiva came to be known as Thiruneelagandan or Neelakandan (the one with Blue Throat).

It is said that on the Trayodhasi (thirteenth moon day) day, the gods and demons realized that they had committed a sin of not praying the God and prayed for forgiveness. Lord Shiva Shankar forgave them and danced in between the horns of the Nandhi’s (Celestial Bull) forehead. This time is called Pradhosham. It is believed that if anybody prays Lord Shiva in that time, he fulfills their wishes and gives them mukthi.

Details of how to perform Pradosha Vrata (Pradosha Mahatmyam from Shiva Purana).
Shivites to the Graceful Lord Shiva. In Shukla Paksha (15 moon days from new moon to full moon) and Krishna Paksha (15 moon days from full moon to new moon) the evening of the Trayodasi (thirteenth moon day) between  4.30 pm to 6.00 p.m. (loosely indicated as 1.5 hours before sunset and 1 hour after sunset) is called Pradosham. It comes once in fifteen moon days. Pradosha time is to pray Lord Shiva and invoke His Blessings. Praying in this time will free us from sins and gives Moksha (hence the name Pradosha). During Pradosha time, a special type of circumbulating called “Somasutra Pradakshinam) is performed.
Whoever Prays Lord Shiva in that time, Lord Shiva fulfills their wishes and give them mukthi.  Anoint Lord Shiva with Love, He would give Himself!
Somasuthra Pradakshnam is a unique way of circumambulating the GOD.  Beginning, First saluting the Rishabha Devar (Holy Bull or Nandi) go anti-clockwise and salute Chandishwarar (not crossing the Gomukhi). Now return in the clockwise manner salute Rishabham and continue clockwise till the Gomukhi (not to cross it again). Then return in anti-clockwise direction salute the Rishabham again and proceed towards chaNdIshar. From there return back clockwise without worshiping Rishabham and reach the gomukhi. Finally return back anticlockwise from there to salute Rishabham and continue to Chandishwarar and return back to Rishabham and worship the shiva lingam (at the altar) by viewing through the space between the two horns of the Holy Bull. This is one Pradakshinam. Three such times Pradakshinam to be done. If you carefully observe the curve traced by doing the pradakshinam is very similar to the periphery of the crescent. Hence this way of circumambulating is called Somasutra Pradakshinam. 
 During the pradhoSham(1) time soma sUtra pradaxiNam is the suggested way of circumambulating the God. In some of the temples this is followed always. A point to note here is that the gomukhi is never crossed. gomukhi is the place where the water after anointing (abhiSheka tIrtam) would be flowing northwards out. By doing this way of pradaxiNam one does not step over this holy water.
As per the above marked symbols this pradaxiNam is to be done. First saluting the R^iShabha devar (Holy Bull)
What Shiva Purana Says
The Shiva Purana states that one undertakes fasting on Pradhosha will be blessed with wealth, children, happiness and honor. The fasting and worship is specially undertaken by women who long to have children. It is said that those praying to Shiva during the auspicious time of Pradhosha will be freed from sins.
How to Observe Fast During Pradosha
Fasting—Types
There are Shiva devotees that observe fast on both Pradosha days in a month. Some only fast during the waning phase of moon.
Staunch devotees opt for water only fasting and will only eat the ‘prasad’ offered in the evening. Such devotees only eat cooked from next day morning.
Another method of fasting is by eating fruits and such devotees eat cooked food on the day after the evening prayers. The strictness of the Pradosha fasting is usually decided by the devotee.
Some devotees do not fast but worship Shiva during the period or visit temples.
Miscellaneous Observances
Visit temple in the morning after taking bath early in the morning
Recite and read Thevaram, Thiruvachagam, Rudra Chamaka manthras.
Take pooja dhraviyam (ingredients mentioned above) for abishekam and pooja, especially ARUGAM PULL (grass) for Nandikeswaran – garland for the bull and VILVAM garland for Lord Siva.
Lighting ghee lamps.
Distribution of prasadam for devotees.
Supplying hot milk with sugar to those chanting Vedas.
Not to touch any idol. It will give negative effect!!!
Always ensure you have darshan of the Lord from behind the Nandi, viewing through the two horns of the bull
Types of Pradosha
Maasa Pradosham – 0430-0600 PM – On thrayodasi day immediately following the Amavasya (newmoon)day
Paksha Pradosham – – 0430-0600 PM – On thrayodasi day immediately following the Pournami (full moon) day
Sani Pradosham and Maha Pradosham 0430-0600 PM – On thrayodasi day immediately following the Amavasya (newmoon)day or the Pournami (full moon) day that falls on any Saturday. If one worships on this day, it is equivalent to having attended Pradosham for 5 years!
Every day between 5-30pm and 600 pm is known as DAILY PRADOSHA KALAM.
Benefits of Worshipping the Lord
Worshipping the Lord (uthsava murthi) in procession in praharams of the temples during Pradosham gives benefit equivalent to punyam obtained by attending kumbabishekam of three temples and equivalent to having visited 100 holy temples.
Many devotees observe the following during Pradosham time:
1. visit temple in the morning after taking bath early in the morning
2. fasting
3 recite and read Thevaram, Thiruvachagam, Rudra Chamaka manthras.
4 take pooja dhraviyam (ingredients mentioned above) for abishekam and pooja, especially ARUGAM PULL (grass) for Nandikeswaran – garland for the bull and VILVAM garland for Lord Siva.
5. lighting ghee lamps.
6. distribution of prasadam for devotees.
7. supplying hot milk with sugar to those chanting Vedas.
8. Not to touch any idol. It will give negative effect!!!
Always ensure you have darshan of the Lord from behind the Nandi, viewing through the two horns of the bull
During Prodhosha time anointing (Abhishekam) the Shiva deity with the Following is considered fruitful.
  Abisheka Name
  Its Effects
  Panchagavyam
Removes all Problems of mankind
  Panchamrutham
Gives wealth
  Ghee
Gives Moksha state
  Milk
Gives long life
  Curd
Gives Good Children
  Honey
Melodious voice
  Rice Powder
Frees from debts
  Sugar Cane Juice
Gives good health and removes enmity
  Lime Juice
Removes fear of death
  Tender Coconut Juice
Gives enjoyment and full satisfaction in life
  Cooked Rice (Annam)
Gives Majestic life
  Sandal Paste
Gives Lakshmi’s Grace
  Sugar
Removes enmity   
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