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.
Pradosha Vrata is observed on the 13th day of a fortnight and there are two Pradosham in a Hindu month. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are worshipped in the evening during twilight on this day. In some regions, the day is dedicated to Nataraja form of Shiva. The fasting on this day is observed for success, peace and fulfillment of desires. It is said that mere darshan of any of the one form of Shiva removes ignorance.
Pradosham is observed when the Trayodashi Tithi is there during the twilight period. This is important. The importance of Pradosha Vrata and how to observe it is narrated in the Skanda Purana. There are two methods of fasting on the day. Some people observe a 24-hour fast which includes not sleeping during night. Another method is fasting from sunrise till sunset and after Shiva puja in the evening the fast is broken. Pradosham is the twilight period just before sunset and after sunset. Pujas and prayers are performed during this period. Many people during this period spend the time in a Shiva temple or listening to the glory of Shiva.In the evening, an hour before sunset the devotee takes bath and prayers are offered to Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvathi, Ganesha, Kartik and Nandi. After the initial prayers, Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of a Kalasha (sacred pot). The Kalasha filled with water is covered with darbha grass and a lotus is drawn on the pot.
Another form of worship is the puja of Shivling. The shivling is bathed with water and Bilva leaves are offered. Some people use a painting or picture of Shiva for worship. It is said that offering Bilva leaves on Pradosham is highly auspicious.After this people listen to the Pradosha Vrata Katha or story or read chapters from Shiva Purana. Then the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra is recited 108 times.
After this the water used in the puja ceremony is given as ‘Prasad’ along with sacred ash. The ash is applied on the forehead. It is said that just lighting a single lamp during Pradosham period is enough to please Lord Shiva and the act is highly rewarding. Majority of Shiva devotees have a darshan of Shiva during Pradosham in a nearby temple
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.
Offering Bael or Bilva leaves during the period to Lord Shiva is considered auspicious.
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.
Since Monday is dedicated to Shiva, the Pradosha falling on Monday is referred as Soma- Pradosha and is considered highly auspicious. Pradosha falling on Saturday during the waning phase of moon is also auspicious.
During pradosha time anointing (Abhishekam) the shiva deity with the following is considered fruitful.
According to Hindu mythology, the day Saturday is dedicated to Lord Shani or Shaneeshwara, one of the Navagrahas or nine celestial gods. Lord Shani or Sani has always been related with troubles and ill effects. Moreover, all Hindus believing in astrology dread the effects of Shani over a person’s life. To overcome and avoid the adversities and misfortunes of Lord Shani, people observe fasts on Shanivar or Saturday. And when a Pradosh falls on a Saturday, it is termed as Shani Pradosh. To overcome the bad influence of Shani, devotees observe a vrat on Shani Pradosh and offering prayers to Shiva during the day.
The fast is observed from sunrise to sunset and ends with the evening puja. Since the name Pradosha literally means ‘a period just before sunset and after sunset’, the Pradosha period for prayers is from 1.5 hours before sunset and 1 hour after sunset. While most of the devotees prefer observing a strict fast by refraining from food and drinking only water, some devotees practice a partial fast by consuming fruits and water. Nonetheless, the strictness of the fast totally depends on the devotees. Even after offering the evening prayers, devotees eat only the Prasad and recommence with eating proper food only in the next morning. During the day of the fast, devotees visit Shiva temples and offer pujas and chant mantras.
Shanidev is karmarak.Shani is very powerful as he is son of Surya God and he is very powerful on Saturday evenings. Chaturthi and Tayadashi rahu is very powerful. Shaitarodayashi earlier one used to pray to Lord Shiva by which our earlier karmas in earlier birth gets cleaned up. Mahashivrati coming on Tuesday is very luck and auspicious as on Saturday Triyadashi means Shanipradosh. On this day one must donate Til to Shani God. As Shiv is Shanis favorite god so Mastor oil is poured on Shani Idol to reduce the effect of shanipradosh. Also praying to shani dev all evil things get reduced peace and calmness in formed in us. All bad karmas get removed and peaceful mind and memory is formed. By following all prayers to Shani god on Saturday night he fulfills our desires and wishes. On Sunday Surya God rearranges all the good effects on him.During Shanipradosh Black Til and White Til should be given to Shani God.
hindu blog, Ramanathan V.Periyagaram