How to do or observe Pradosham or Pradosha Vrata?

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.

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 garbha 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.

Importance about Pradosham - Shiva Pradosham

Pradhosha Vrata, or Pradhosham, is an important fasting day dedicated to Lord Shiva. Pradosha occurs twice in a month – on the 13th day (Trayodashi) – during the waxing moon fortnight and the other during the waning moon fortnight. The puja and worship is done in the evening. The Pradosha period can be loosely indicated as 1.5 hours before sunset and 1 hour after sunset.

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.

There are numerous legends associated with the Pradhosha Vratam. It is believed that Lord Shiva drank the Halahala poison that was churned up from the Ocean of Milk (Samudra Manthan) during Pradosham.

Another myth indicates that Lord Shiva and Parvati, the divine couple, are in a propitious mood during the evening twilight on the Trayodashi day and hence are easily pleased and grants whatever that a sincere devotee asks.

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.

Pradosham – Pradosh in shiva Temples

Pradosham, also referred as Pradosha Vrata, is an auspicious day dedicated to Lord Shiva in a traditional Hindu month and it falls on the 12th day a lunar fortnight. There are two Pradoshams – one during the waxing phase of moon and another during the waning phase of moon. Important pujas and rituals on the day dedicated to Lord Shiva and Parvati is observed during the twilight period. In January 2009 Pradosha are on January 8 and January 23.

Fasting from sunrise to sunset is the main ritual on the day for Shiva devotees. Some people only observe fasting on anyone of the Pradoshams in a month. Staunch Shiva devotees observe fast on the both the Pradosh days in a month.

The prayers and rituals for Pradosham begin around 1.5 hours before sunset and end one hour after sunset.

Special pujas are performed in Shiva temples during the period. It is said that Lord Shiva and Parvati are in a happy mood during Pradosham period and are easily pleased.

Thai Amavasai – Amavasai in the Tamil Month Thai

Thai Amavasya or Thai Amavasi is the no moon day in the Tamil Month of Thai (January – February). Thai Amavasai is dedicated to dead forefathers and parents and to other relatives who have died. Special prayers, rituals and offerings are made to the dead ancestors on the day. In 2009, the date of Thai Amavasai is January 25. It must be note that the Amavasi begins on January 25 and overlaps into January 26.

Hindus on the day take a holy dip (bath) in the various Thirthas (sacred water bodies). Shradh and Tarpan are offered to the dead forefathers. There is a popular belief that on Thai Amavasya day the souls of the dead visit to bless their relations on the earth. The rituals and other pujas are performed on riverbanks or on seashores.

The day is of great importance at the Rameshwaram Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple. Rituals, pujas and prayers associated with Thai Amavasi are also observed at several places in Tamil Nadu including Kannyakumari, Dhanushkodi, Muhuntharayarchatram, Sethukarai and Devipattinam.

Thousands of people take dip at Rameshwaram and visit the Agnitheertha Kadarkarai (sea coast) in the morning to offer pujas to the dead ancestors. Special prayers also offered to the Navagrahas at Devipattinam near Rameshwaram.

In Rameshwaram, a special procession carrying the idols of Lord Shiva, Lord Ram and Sita from the Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple reaches Agnitheertha on the day and special prayers and pujas are done.

Basant Panchami 2009 – Vasant Panjami

Vasanth Panchami, or Basant Panjami, is a popular festival in North India which heralds the arrival of the spring season. ‘Basant’ or ‘Vasant’ means spring and ‘Panchami’ is the fifth day after Amavasi in Magh month when it is celebrated Saraswathi Pooja is performed in North and Eastern parts of India on the day. Yellow color, which symbolizes prosperity and love, is given importance on the day. In 2009, the date of Basant Panchami is January 31.

Vasant Panchami festival is celebrated mainly in North India. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that ‘Vasant’ is one of his forms. Basant Panjami is purely a festival of nature and there is no major scriptural story associated with it as is the case of most Hindu festivals.

Vasant Panchami is essentially welcoming the blossoming nature after the harsh winter.

Great prominence is given to yellow color on Basant Panchami as it signifies the ripening of fruits and crops. The mustard fields in North India blooms during this season giving a yellow coat to nature.

To welcome the pristine nature after a harsh winter, deities in temples and houses are decorated with yellow colored clothes. Similarly, yellow colored food, sweets and fruits are distributed to friends, neighbors and relatives. Yellow sweet rice is cooked and distributed on the day.

Goddess Saraswathi is worshipped by students and teachers on the day in northern and eastern parts of India.

On the day, prayers are offered to Goddess Saraswathi (Goddess of Knowledge), Lord Surya (Sun God), Mother Ganga (Ganges) and Bhu Devi (Mother Earth). The worship of elements in nature is acknowledging the various forms of nature, which sustains human beings, plants and animals.

Similarly, people pay homage to the ancestors on the day and Pitru Tarpan is also performed by some communities.

Vasanth Panchami is also an important bathing day during the Magh Mela

Kite flying is a major activity during the period in many parts of the region.