Pradosham, an important ritual in all Shiva temples

Nandi. Pradosha Vazhipadu.

There  are certain  rituals associated with temples dedicated to God Shiva. But the number of such rituals is far less than those of Sri Vishnu temples. Among the rituals of Shiva temples, Pradosh Vrat or Pradosham or Pradosha Kala Vazhipadu, as it is called in Tamil Nadu, has gained much importance in the past decade or so  and it is being observed by many Shiva temples - big or small to   seek blessings of Lord Shiva.

Pradosham, Thiruvannamalai temple, TN.

Above image; An old picture. On 24 of this month Pradosham was celebrated on a grand scale at Arunachaleswarar temple of Tiruvannamalai, TN. To the main Nadi idol various abishekhams were done by the temple priests in the presence of lots of devotees...... 

Pradosham  is observed on both Trayodashi Tithis, i.e. Shukla Paksha Trayodashi and Krishna Paksha Trayodashi, in lunar month. Some people distinguish between Shukla and Krishna Paksha Pradosham. People observe Soma Pradosham -Monday, Bhauma Pradosham- Tuesday and Shani Pradosham that falls on Saturday.

Pradosham  is calculated   when Trayodashi Tithi falls during Pradosh Kaalam  which  begins  after Sunset. The time after Sunset that is when  Trayodashi Tithi and Pradosh time overlap is  considered to be most auspicious for Shiva Puja. 

As for fasting time for Pradosham, it may differ depending on the location of the place and  sunset time and it is observed when Trayodashi Tithi prevails after sunset. It is good to observe Pradosham fasting on Dwadashi Tithi i.e. one day before Trayodashi Tithi. It is imperative to know the local time of sunset, etc..

Pradosham,  highly auspicious, is an  important day for the devotees of Lord Shiva. While Pradosham marks the thirteenth day (Trayodashi) of the lunar month, there are two Pradoshams in a month - one during the waxing phase (Shukla Paksha) and the other during the waning phase (Krishna Paksha). So, Pradosham is a bimonthly ritual  on the thirteenth day of every fortnight in the Hindu calendar. It is closely connected with the worship of the Hindu god Shiva. The right time to worship Shiva is the auspicious 3-hour period  - 1.5 hours before and after the sunset. On the Tithi of Thrayodashi, Lord Shiva performed his dance of eustasy, so  one and half hours on Thrayodashi are being observed as the time of Pradosha  in all  Shiva temples across the land. 

Twilight—before dawn and sunset—is favorable on Pradosham. During this hour, all prayers and pujas are observed with dedication and religious fervor Devotees must worship  and conduct puja  one hour before nightfall. Besides Lord Shiva and  Parvati, Ganesh, Kartik, and Nandi are worshipped. The devotees must head head bath before beginning puja and abstain from Non-vegetarian food, liquor and even sex. 

The strong belief among the devotees has been that Pradosha Kala worship, Puja or fasting will earn them the blessings of the Lord of the Cosmos and all their wishes, etc will be fulfilled. In such prayers and belief, trust is the main force that will boost your confidence and positivity. It is believed all the sins are eliminated and all desires are fulfilled on this day by fasting and praying to the god. Pradosham gives importance to  the spiritual awakening from the material enjoyment and comforts. The ultimate realization is self-contentment. 

 Apart from performing Pradosha  Vratham (vow) as per tradition, during that day, the bull - Nandi (God Shiva's vahana) in all South Indian temples is the focus of attention and is worshipped with bhakti. Normally, puja will be performed to the  festival idols of  god Shiva and his consort Parvati.  The highlight of every pradosha is what is called the Soma Sooktha Pradakshinam. The Pradosha Nayaka,  a small statue of Shiva and Parvathi, on Nandi comes out only during the pradosha and  is carried in a procession in a particular manner around the temple three times, followed by  the devotees.

It has been a tradition at many places that  special pujas are done to the God's vahana Nandi (Rishabam) as part of Pradosham. Devotees would normally  whisper their wishes in Nandi's ears during this day. Lord Nandi will grant all our wishes on this day, sacrificing his meditation.