Pradosha worship of God Shiva - 18 Essential facts!

Nandi -bull, Thanjavur Brihadeeswar temple, TN

There are many rituals in Hinduism to fulfil the spiritual needs of the people and  the aim is to  cleanse the body and mind so that they  will progress in life in the midst of many difficulties with confidence and trust. Here, the motivation is belief in god accompanied by  hard work. Bhakti alone can not yield the desired results one has to put in matching hard work and the inspiration comes from bhakti.  

Nandi Brihadeeswara temple, Thanjavur, TN.

Ekadashi,  favorite Tithi of Lord Krishna on which day devotees observe "upvas" to be closer to him,   occurs on  the eleventh lunar day (tithi) of each of the two lunar phases - the Shukla Pakṣa (the period the waxing phase) and the Kṛṣṇa Pakṣa (waning phase).  In Sanatana Dharma Ekadashi holds great importance. 

Sandal water abhisheka on the bull,Big

Like Ekadasi   Pradosha or Pradosham, closely linked to the worship of God Shiva, is a bimonthly event. It falls on the  thirteenth day of every fortnight in Hindu calendar. The right time to worship Shiva is the auspicious 3-hour period  - 1.5 hours before and after the sunset. On the Thithi 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.  Observation of Pradosham ritual is quite well-known in Tamil Nadu and  on that day temples are over crowded, particularly in the last one decade, it is more so than ever before.     

Arunachaleswar temple, Thiruvannamalai,

Above image:  Arunachaleswar temple, Thiruvannamalai, TN. Karthigai Pradosham. 

Some 18  interesting  facts of Pradosham: 

01. Pradosham  is a blend of  of two words pra and dosham in which Pra meaning  removing  and Dosham meaning  sins,  implying removal of sins. The Pradosham time or kaalam  on Thriodasi day is considered very auspicious.

02. Pradosha differs from  Shivratri that is celebrated on the Chaturdashi Tithi of Krishna Paksha every month. It is also called Pradosha.

03. Kinds of Pradosha:  There are five types of pradoshas known. They are:  Nithya pradosha (Daily), Paksha Pradosha (Every Thrayodashi), Maasa Pradosha (thrayodashi of Krishna paksha), Maha pradosha (when pradosha falls on a Saturday) and Pralaya Pradosha (total destruction of the universe - cataclysmic process  (the acts of creation and destruction will finally recede into Shakti and  Siva). Ardent devotees of Shiva  observe pradosha and Viratha every day too.  The only Nitya Pradosham Temple is Thyagaraja Swamy Temple, Thiruvarur.

04. Importance of worshipping God Shiva and his sacred bull: Persistently troubled by Asuras Danavas and Daityas  Devas, at last, to get relief from the atrocities, sought the help of God Shiva. At God's abode Kailasa they approached the lord on a Thrayodashi evening  aided by Nandi, Shiva's sacred bull. Shiva at last annihilated the dreaded  asuras.  This is the reason why  the practice of worshipping Shiva on Thrayodashi along with Nandi  in Shiva temples has been around for a long time.   

05. Auspicious day to begin your work:  On the day of Pradosham it is essential to visit the Shiva temple to pray to the lord and his consort, besides his vahana - bull. This day being  propitious and stands for success, welfare, happiness and peace of mind, one can under take any work or endeavor. Such an undertaking will succeed over a period of time.     

06. Removal of Sin Pradosham  literally meaning ‘removal of sins’ so you can be rest assured that  this auspicious time gives you a chance to get rid of sins or some unethical thing done in the past due to past Karma. 

07. Following Dharmic path: Once cleansed physically and mentally,  take a resolution to follow the Dharmic path; you not only improve your inherent dormant energy and but also  gain a balanced mind to approach day-to-day problems.     

08. Energy level highest:  It is on the  Pradosham - the 13th day after a New Moon and a Full Moon we see activities of high energy level peak. Medium energy level occurs twice a month and low energy potential is confined to a small segment of time every day  between 4.30 PM and 6.00 PM . 

09. Worship of Shiva on the Pradosha day has to be done with devotion. No alcohol, tobacco and NV food.  As rituals of the day are taking place in the evening after sundown  devotees must wear fresh clothes after regular head bath.

10. Worship of Nandi vahana at the temple: Apart from performing Pradosha  vratha (vow) as per tradition, during that day, the bull - Nandi 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 Nayakar,  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.

11. Ritualistic worship in the evening: Nandi Vahana is an important part of the ritual in many temples.  There are true devotees of Shiva who observe pradosha every day too. It has been ritualistic tradition to conduct the Pradosha worship  in the evening almost twilight (sandhya kala). 

12. Shani Pradosha:  Observing fast  on Shani pradosha is quite significant  and beneficial. It will be conducive to peace of mind, apart,  childless couple will be blessed with a baby. Most importantly, the bad effects of plane Shani will gotten rid of.    .

13. Vratha and cleansing of mind: Undertaking vratha - fast will further rejuvenate the devotee if followed  correctly and it is normally followed by vigil.  Pradosha vratha has a number of unique observances as preached by by Sandilya Maharishi.  During the Prdosha kala, devotees witness special anointing of Lord's mount Rishabam /Nandi (bull) with milk, sandal water, etc. Same thing is done to the presiding deity - Shiva Linga. Besides,  special abhisheka is done to the lord with Vilva leaves, food offerings (Naivadyaas), etc. Finally Deepa  aradhana or aarti will be done by the temple priest.

14. Two types of Vratha:   Pradosh vrathas are of two types.  One is  fasting from sunrise until sunset, and the fast is broken after worshipping Lord Shiva in the evening. The other being observance of  strict fast for the entire day. 

15.  Significance of Vratha:  Pradosha Vratha  is also observed with a view to getting  spiritual upliftment - simply approaching problems with calm mind and with focus on discretion.  

 16. Pradosha and Unmarried girls: As for unmarried girls, Bhaum Pradosham in the month of Sawan is auspicious.  They have to fast  on that day after prayer, etc.  Female devotees must offer at least 5 items of shringaar to Goddess

17. Invocation of God Shiva and Nandi:  Before sunset  and the worship of  Shiva, Parvati, their sons Ganesha and Kartikeya, and Nandi, it is a must to take head bath. The purpose of invocation of God Shiva and his family including Nandi is to get blessed by them during this auspicious time.  Monday is believed to  be the most auspicious day for worshipping of Lord Shiva. It is said if he is worshipped on this day  whatever you wish will be fulfilled.   .

18. The story of Pradosha: In many temples after the worship is over  the Pradosha story is read out  and is a shortened version of “Pradhosha Mahimai” described by Sandilyar. The reading or listening of this story during pradhosha is said to have good effect on the devotees. It is equal to doing the entire  prescribed pooja and rituals. Further, when devotees undergo trials and tribulations in their lives, they will be mitigated to some extend.  

In case of future lock-down of temples, pradosha worship can be done at home by offering flowers, sandalwood and cow milk  to the idol of Lord Shiva.