Pradosh, also known as Pradosham, is a bimonthly occasion dedicated to Lord Shiva. It falls on the thirteenth day (trayodashi) of every fortnight in the Hindu calendar. It is an auspicious three hour period of twilight considered the best time for Lord Shiva’s worship. Shiva devotees undertake a fast on this day, known as the Pradosh Vrat. On this day people wear Rudraksha and Vibhuti to perform traditional worship of Lord Shiva with Abhishek, sandal paste, bael leaves, incense and lamps.
Legend behind Pradosh
According to the Puranic legend, the Devas (gods) appealed to Lord Shiva in the most conducive muhurta of pradosh to seek his help in defeating the asuras (demons). They ran to Mount Kailash on a Pradosh evening and were received by Nandi, Shiva’s sacred bull. Shiva agreed to help them in defeating the asuras. In this way, the tradition of Shiva worship along with Nandi on trayodashi started and continues to this day.
In another legend, Pradosh is the time when Lord Shiva emerged from his stupor (because of the poison he consumed from the samudra manthan) and danced the tandava on top of his Nandi bull. It is believed that during pradosh time, Shiva is in an ecstatic state and blesses anyone who prays to him.
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What to do on Pradosh
Visiting the Shiva temple in the evening and performing Abhishek is part of the Pradosh tradition. During the time of Pradosh, Nandi bull is worshipped in all Shiva temples. In some places, the idols of Shiva and Parvathi seated on Nandi are carried around the temple complex.
Pradosh refers to the cleansing of sins. It is the most opportune time to remove negative karma by performing a cleansing of our souls. This is done in a symbolic way with Rudra Abhishek, where devotees bathe the Shivalingam with ghee, milk, honey, curd, coconut water and other aromatic liquids. Along with this, they chant Shiva mantra “Om Namah Shivaye”, Mahamrityunjaye mantra, Purush Sookt and Rudram. Performing these rituals with a Parad Shivling is believed to provide manifold benefits.
When to Start Pradosh Vrat
Pradosh vrat can be started from early in the morning until after Shiva Abhishek after sunset. Basically, Pradosh occurs six ghatikas after sunset and Trayodashi should be prevailing during this time. This is the time when Shiva Abhishek is done. Thus Pradosh fast depends on the time of sunset and varies from city to city.
How to do Pradosh Vrat
According to the Shiva Purana, a person who observes Pradosh Vrat will attain prosperity, children, and fulfilment of desires. Pradosh Vrat is also undertaken by women who wish to conceive children. The significance of Pradosha Vrat and the Pradosh Vrat Vidhi also finds mention in the Skanda Purana.Some devotees observe fast on both Pradosh days in the month, while others fast only during the Krishna paksha (waning moon). There are two ways of observing the Pradosh fast. Some devotees observe a rigorous 24-hour Vrat without sleeping at night. Others drink only water during fasting and eat the prasad offered after the evening puja. These devotees eat cooked only from the next morning.
Another easier method of Pradosh Vrat is to eat fruits during the day and consume cooked food after the evening prayers later in the day. The rigour of Pradosh Vrat really depends on the willpower and health of the devotee. There are others who do not fast at all but worship Shiva during the twilight time or visit the temple.
Take a bath early in the morning on the day of your Pradosh fast. At twilight in the evening, if you light one deepak during Pradosh hours, Shiva will be well pleased. You can worship Lord Shiva in the form of a Kalash (sacred pot). Fill this Kalash with water and cover it with darbha grass and draw a lotus on the pot. Offer bael leaves to Lord Shiva. After using this water in the puja ceremony, give this as prasad alongside the vibhuti (sacred ash). This Vibhuti can be applied on the forehead as a symbol of Shiva.
Sunrise and sunset times vary from place to place. You will know when to start your Pradosh Vrat if you refer to the sunrise and sunset timings in your place of stay.
Pradosh occurs every month and in every paksha of the moon, when triyodashi (13th day of the fortnight) meets the end of dwadasi (12th day of fortnight). When Pradosh falls on a Saturday, a day dedicated to Lord Saturn or Shani Dev, it is known as Shani Pradosh or Sani Pradosh Vrat. People in whose natal chart Saturn is malefic or those who are undergoing their Sade Sati or Ashtam Shani periods perform worship and upaya for Saturn on Shani Pradosh to gain relief.