Pradosham is the time present between one and half hour before and after the sun set (One muhurtham). Pradosham is a combination of two words pra and dosham in which Pra means Removes, and Dosham means sins that is the time that removes sins.
This Muhurtham comes every day, however, the Pradosham time on triodasi day is considered very auspicious. That too on the Krishnapaksha triodasi (that falls on dark fortnight or triodasi before Amavasya). If the Pradosham falls on a Saturday then it is referred as Shani Pradosham, which is considered even more auspicious and this time has immense importance in the Shaivite tradition.
What is Pradosha Pooja?
In general, the darshan or pooja that happens early in the morning (Pratah Kala) is considered as auspicious. However, in temples of God Shiva the pooja or darshan that takes place during evenings also have equal importance along with the morning ones.
Of all the poojas in Shiva temples, Pradosha pooja has a special place. During this time, abhishekams are performed to Great God Shiva and Lord Rishabha or Nandi at a time. Later, continues with the processions of Utsava vigrahas around the temple.
In order to know why the Prasosha Muhurtham has immense importance it is good to know the story behind it. This story is related to Ksheera-sagara madhanam or the churning of the milky ocean.
Once, gods and demons started to churn the milky ocean to obtain the immortal nectar or Amrutha.
During the churning process a deadly poison named Halahala came out and destroyed whatsoever is present before it. By seeing the destruction caused by Halahala the devas and asuras panicked and ran to the Kailasa, the abode of Great god Shiva for help.
Looking at the plight and prayers of mercy by devas and asuras, Great God Shiva moved and ordered Sundara, one of his attendants to bring the halahala and gave him all the powers to do so.
Sundara with the powers obtained, rolled all that dark poison into a small ball that looks similar to the Jamun fruit and brought it before the God Shiva. This is the reason why Sundara is usually called as Halahalasundara.
Even in that situation, the halahala ball itself had burnt down everything near it. Also, unable to bear its immense heat, devas and other beings fled away. Pitied by seeing this, Vrushabha deva, the bull of god Shiva protected them by giving shelter under his own tongue by stretching it out.
Great god Shiva then swallowed the Halahala and kept it in his throat and protected all the worlds and due to this action God Shiva’s throat became blue coloured. Hence the name Neelakantha- the one with blue throat.
On gratitude, devas started offering their prayers to the God Shiva, then God Shiva said to them, the one who protected them at first was his Vrushabha or Nandi so said to offer the same prayers to him too along with him.
Vrushabha deva thanked God Shiva for his mercy on him. Then all the gods and other beings started worshipping God Shiva and Vrushabha deva at the same time.
The swallowing of Halahala by God Shiva thereby protecting the devas happened on a triodasi day just before the time of sunset and in specific on a Saturday.
That is why the pradosham became very important and it is the reason behind the worship of God Shiva and Nandi at once during this time. Hence, prodasham is considered more auspicious especially on Triodasi and also on Saturdays
Also, the God Shiva then performed a dance (tandavam) by standing in between the horns of Rishabha or Nandi and gave his blessings to all the beings.
Pleased by this heavenly sight of God Shiva all the gods praised in their own interested ways for his merciful nature, like Goddess Saraswati playing Veena, God Indra playing flute, God Vishnu playing mridangam, Goddess Lakshmi by singing, God Brahma by cymbals and so on further obtaining the grace of Great God Shiva.
Later, God Shiva also gave a boon that whomsoever worships him along with Rishabha or Nandi in this pradosham time, will get their wishes fulfilled.
What are the Benefits of Pradosha Pooja or Worshipping in this time?
As per the karanagama, worshiping God Shiva along with God Rishabha or Nandi during the pradosha time or pradosha pooja will get immense benefits. It is believed to relieve their diseases and mental disbalances, fears of death.
It is also believed that the devotees will be uplifted from poverty by the gods mercy along with fulfilling all their wishes.
How many Pradoshas are there?
Pradoshas are mainly categorized in to 4 types they are
- Nitya Pradosham – The Pradosham that comes daily
- Paksha Pradosham – that comes every 15 days on triodasi tidhi
- Masa Prodosham – That occurs on the 2nd triodasi of the month.
- Varsha Pradosham – that comes every year before the day of Mahashivarathri
- Yuga Pradosham or Pralaya Pradosham – the Pradosham that comes on the end of yuga/ universe.
What is Shani Pradosham?
If a praosham day falls on a triodasi which is a Saturday, then it is referred as Shani Pradosham. As discussed in the story that God shiva saved the worlds from halahala on a triodasi which was a Saturday, thus the shani triodasi day got immense importance.
Likewise, if the Triodasi pradosham falls on a Monday it is referred as Soma Pradosham. Similarly Bhauma Pradosham on Tuesday, Saumya pradosham on Wednesday, Guru, Bhrugu and Bhanu pradoshams on Thursday, Friday and Sundays respectively.
Of all these, Shani and Soma pradoshams are considered very holy.
What is Pradosha Vrat?
Pradosha vrat is the Vrat to be taken on the triodasi days for the worship of God shiva. This vrat is usually done by fasting, worshipping and visiting the Shiva temple in the pradosha time of that day.
Among the pradosha vrats , Shani and soma pradosha vrats are considered very sacred. During the triodasi days the devotee who follows this vrat should take a head bath early in the morning and do fasting for whole day and who cannot fast for the entire day can do till the pradosham time.
During this day, the devotee needs to offer prayers to God Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Ganesha, Karthikeya, Nandi and other attendants of God Shiva. Also, the devotee must listen or read the Pradosha vrat story as it is prescribed in the sacred texts.
After visiting the temple or worshiping in home after pradosham, the devotee who does the vrat can eat any uncooked eatables like fruits.