Pradosh Vrat, also known as Pradosham, is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The Pradosha fasting and rituals are observed on the 13th day of lunar fortnight. There is an interesting story mentioned in the Puranas which narrate the origin of the Pradosh Fasting. The Pradosh vrat katha is associated with Samudurmanthana or Churning of ocean and Lord Shiva drinking the poison Halahala.
To get Amrita or the elixir of life, Devas and Asuras started the Samudra Manthan or churning of ocean on the advice from Lord Vishnu. The churning of the ocean produced the terrible poison Halahala which had the capacity to devour the universe.It is believed that Lord Shiva is extremely happy during this period and blesses all this devotees and fulfills their wishes during the Pradosh period on Trayodashi day.
Shiva devotees perform Pradosh for attaining moksha and fulfilling their dreams.
Important Pradosh Vratas
Of all the pradosha’s Shani Pradosh and Soma Pradosh are considered to be important. Sani Pradosham is the Pradosha Vrata falling on Saturday. And Soma Pradosh is observed when Pradosha falls on a Monday.
Maha Pradhosh is the Pradosha which falls before or on Maha Sivarathri in the month of Maagha in traditional Hindu Calendar.
The performance of the vrata involves a fast followed by a vigil. A bath is taken one hour before sunset and Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Ganesha, Skanda, and Nandi are worshipped. Following this, Lord Shiva is invoked. The Pradosh story is read out after the formal worship is concluded
There are five types of Pradosh:
1. NITYA Pradosh- The evening time on all days, between just 3 ghatis (72 minutes) before sunset and the time when the stars rise or become visible in the sky.
2. Paksha Pradosh- Sandhya (evening) time of Shukla Paksha Chaturthi (4th Lunar day after New Moon) every month.
3. Maasa Pradosh- Sandhya Krishna Paksha Trayodashi (13th Lunar day after Full Moon) every month.
4. Maha Pradosh- Sandhya time of Krishna Paksha Trayodashi which falls on a Saturday.
5. Pralaya Pradosh- The time when the entire universe gets annihilated of merged with Lord Shiva. Pradosh Vrat is observed on every 13th Lunar day after full and new Moon, by the wife and husband jointly with the hope of being free from, miseries or for gaining material prosperity.
How To Observe Pradosham
The fast of Pradosham is observed in two different ways. First, stern devotees observe a 24-hour fast during which they refrain from sleeping the night as well. Second, devotees observe a partial fast. That is, they keep a fast from sunrise to sunset and break it after offering prayers to Lord Shiva. Pradosham is defined as the twilight period just before sunrise and immediately after sunset. During the entire day of fasting, devotees indulge in offering prayers and pujas to Lord Shiva. Most of the devotees spend their complete time at the temple or listening to the glory of Shiva.
About an hour before sunset, devotees take a holy bath and proceed with another round of prayers to Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Ganesha, Kartik and Nandi. Next, Lord Shiva is also worshipped in the form of a Kalasha (sacred pot). The Kalasha is prepared by filled it with water and covering darbha grass over it. The pot is completed by drawing a lotus on the pot. Shiva devotees also worship the Shivling. The pujas are conducted by bathing the Shivling with water and offering Bilva leaves to it. While the prayers are offered with a real Shivling, some devotees even use a painting or picture of Shiva for the same.
Offering Bilva leaves on the occasion of Pradosham is regarded as highly auspicious. After the prayers are done, the Pradosh Vrata katha (story) or chapters from Shiva Purana are read out loud. The devotees then recite the Maha Mritunjaya Mantra 108 times.
AUM TRYAMBAKAM, YAJAAMAHE, SUGANDHIM PUSTIVARDHANAM, URVAARUKAMIVA, BANDHANAAN, MRITYOR, MUKSHEEYA, MAAMRITAAT.
In the end the sacred kalasha water is taken, the sacred ash is applied to the forehead and the sacred water, which is used to bathe the Lord, is drunk as prashad.
A gift of a pot, a cloth and an image of god have to be given to a Brahmin or in charity to conclude the worship. Even a single BILVA leaf (leaf taken from the wood-apple tree) offered to the Lord at this unique auspicious moment equals a 100’S OF Mahapujas.