Sawan is considered to be one of the holiest months of the Hindu calendar, during which devotees observe fast and worship Lord Shiva. It is the fifth lunar month in Hindu calendar, during which many devotees even give up eating non-vegetarian food. The month of Shravana is very important for the entire subcontinent of India as it is connected to the arrival of the South-West monsoons. For many Hindus, the month of Shravan is a month of fasting. Many Hindus will fast every Monday to Lord Shiva and/or every Tuesday to the Goddess Parvati.
This year, as per Hindu belief, Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the Purnima Tithi (Full Moon Day) in the month of Shravan. This year, the festival will be celebrated on August 3.
It is during this holy month that Kanwars, saffron-attire clad Shiva devotees, walk barefoot with pitchers of holy water balanced between their shoulders from the Ganga to their homes where this holy water is offered to the Shivalinga. This form of Shiva worship has a special significance in regions around the Ganga where the Kanwar Yatra usually stretches for over 100 kilometres. The pilgrims, a motley assembly including old and young people, women and men, children and even differently-abled can be spotted at holy sites by Ganga such as Gangotri, Gaumukh and Hardwar and the Jyotilingam shrines of Shiva. The holy month of Shravan is also linked with the Samudra Manthan event that took place in the Satyuga when Lord Vishnu appeared as Kurma ( the tortoise) to assist the Devas (Gods) and the Asuras while they were churning the Kshirasagar to obtain Amrit (the nectar of immortality). However, before the Amrit, the Halahala appeared. It was a venom that had the powers to destroy the universe and to save creation and humanity, Lord Shiva drank the Halahala. Hence, devotees worship Lord Shiva during the month of Shravan. Moreover, Sawan is related to the tale that describes how Goddess Parvati observed an intense penance to please Lord Shiva and proposed marriage.
Things to do during Shravan month
• Wear the sacred Rudraksh, and also use a Rudraksha mala for Japa.
• Offer Lord Shiva Bhibhuti and place some on your forehead.
• Make offerings of Bel leaves, Panchamrut (milk, yoghurt, clarified butter, honey and jaggery) on Shiva Ling.
• Recite Shiv Chalisa and Aarti.
• Chant Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra.
• Fasting on Mondays. Girls who fast on all Mondays of Shravan get a good husband.
Monday fasting on Shravan month
Shravan Somvara Vrat – One of the names of Lord Shiva is soma – saha uma. For the Lord someshvara Who wears the soma, the moon crescent on the matted hair, on the somavara day (Monday), this festival is observed. Though all Mondays can be observed as vrat there are special mondays when it is much more emphasised to observe like the shravan Somvar and karthikai sOmavAr. According to skandha purANa, on the Mondays of the month kArthikai (mid Nov to mid Dec) this vrata is observed.
Way of observing
After taking a bath, pray to the Auspicious and Graceful Lord Shiva. Anointing the Lord with panchAmRitam and other pleasant substances, hail the Lord offering bilva leaves. During the day don’t take any solid food. U can take Milk/ buttermilk/ fruit juice/ fruits. After 6’o clock in the evening prayers to Lord Shiva and break ur fast and eat normal solid food (avoid onions and garlic). Your fasting should start from 12 in the midnight and ends in the evening on Monday. It is believed that one who fasts on all Monday of Shravan has all prayers from the heart answered. It is not necessary to undergo rigid practices. Even for this fast, different people may have different practises….e.g. some people may not have buttermilk or some may have specific mantras to be chanted. You can follow whatever gives you peace of mind.
Each day in the month of Shravan has a special significance and has its own ritual.
- Monday: is the day of Lord Shiva worship.
- Tuesday: Gauri is worshipped in every home, by women for the good health of their family.
- Wednesday: are dedicated to Vithala, a form of Vishnu or Krishna.
- Thursday: are also days for worshipping Buddha and Guru.
- Friday: every home worships Lakshmi and Tulsi.
- Saturday: are for Saturn (Shani). It is also known as Shravan Saturdays, with the object obtaining wealth. These days are known as Sampat Sanivara (wealth Saturdays).
- Sundays: are meant worshipping the Sun god. Sun worship was general in the Vedic period and even now it is so. Especially in Shravan, every Sunday the Sun is worshipped without fail.
A festival which is similar to north India’s Kanwar Yatra is celebrated as the Kavadi festival in Tamil Nadu wherein Lord Muruga is worshipped. During this month, all Mondays or Somwar are considered highly auspicious for observing a fast known as Shravan Somwar or Sawan Somwar Vrats.
Many devotees observe the 16 Mondays or Solah Somwar fast from first Somwar of Sawan month. All Tuesdays or Mangalwar in Shravan month are dedicated to Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. Tuesday’s fasting during Shravan month is known as Mangal Gauri Vrat. Sawan Shivaratri and Hariyali Amavasya are other auspicious days during Shravan month.
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