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Pradosham is an auspicious 3-hour period, 1.5 hours before and after the sunset and is observed bi-monthly on the 13th day of every fortnight. Therefore, there are two Pradoshams observed in a month, one in the waxing phase and the other in the waning phase of the Moon. The day is considered highly auspicious for the worship of Lord Shiva and his vehicle, Nandi (the bull).
In Sanskrit, “Pra” means remover and “Dosham” means inauspicious events or Karma. As the name implies, Pradosham is the day when Lord Shiva would dissolve all your Karma and sins and fulfill your wishes. When the sun sets on the horizon, the mind calms down and is the ideal time to settle for a deep meditation for the Supreme Lord Shiva.
The time between 4.30 PM – 6.00 PM is observed as Pradosham. The smaller energy level Pradoshams occur every day during this time window. Middle energy level Pradoshams occur twice a month on the 13th lunar phase after a New Moon and a Full Moon. Larger energy level Pradosham occurs when one of the 13th lunar phases falls on a Saturday.
According to legend, the Devas (celestial beings) and the Asuras (demons) churned the cosmic ocean of milk for Amirtham (nectar) using Mount Meru as the stick and Vasuki snake as the rope. Upon severe movement in opposite directions, the divine snake suffered extreme abrasions. Thereupon, she spat out “Halahala” venom, which fell in the nectar. The Devas afraid to go near it cried out for help to Lord Shiva.
Shiva, the ultimate preserver of the universe, pleased with their prayers drank the venom to save them. Goddess Parvati, his consort was afraid that it might kill Lord Shiva and held his throat to prevent the venom from reaching down to his stomach. The venom turned his throat blue, and this event bagged him the name “Neelakanta.”
On a Trayodashi (13th Moon phase), Devas realized their sin and pleaded Lord Shiva for forgiveness. This delighted him, and the Supreme Lord danced with joy in between the horns of Nandi, the Bull. It is believed that he performed this dance during the Pradosham timing and he does it every day. Hence, during Pradosham Nandi is also worshipped in all the Shiva temples of South India.
Pradosham being the optimal timing for worshipping Lord Shiva, observing a fast adds more divinity to the day. Fasting on Pradosham not only cleanses the body system but also can dissolve negative energies, karma, and sins and pave the way for liberation.
Pradosham on Mondays and Saturdays are considered more sacred, with Monday being the auspicious day for Lord Shiva and Saturday, which is controlled by Saturn, the bookkeeper of Karma is influenced by Lord Shiva to loosen the strings of karmic bonds for his devotees. When Pradosham falls on a Monday, it is called Somavara or Soma Pradosham, and when it falls on a Saturday, it is called as Sani Pradosham.
Observing Vrat (fasting) on this day shall bless you with triumph, peace, and fulfillment of wishes. Some people observe a 24 hour fast and others observe fasting from sunrise until sunset, breaking the fast after Shiva Pooja in the evening. Visiting Shiva temples and performing Abishekam (hydration Pooja) for Lord Shiva is highly meritorious on a Pradosham. Each item used for the Abishekam has significant effect or benefit for the devotee.
Appeasing Lord Shiva on a Pradosham with the observance of fasting can bestow the following benefits:
The sacred scriptures prescribe fire ceremony, Abishekam (hydration ceremony), Pooja/Archana (Light and Sound ceremony), Yantra and Mantra (special sounds) as the ways to offer your prayer to the divine. Out of these, fire ceremony is the most evolved spiritual technology on earth to connect with the divine beings. Participate in the remedial services to clear your karma and receive the blessings.