Friday, August 8, 2014

Shravan Masa

Shravan Masa 

Hindus follow the lunar calendar. In North Indian states like Uttar Pradesh,Punjab, and Rajasthan, the month starts on the full moon day (Poornima). However, in some states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, the month starts on the new moon night (Amavasya). 

Shravan heralds the festival season in India, which stretched up to Deepavali or Diwali (early November this year). Shravan is the fifth month of the Hindu calendar and is probably its holiest. It is choc-a-bloc with festivals and auspicious occasions.

Read a scientific explanation of why we should fast in Shravan. Eating fish is also prohibited in Shravan, for one simple reason; fish spawn at this time of the year.

Each region in India has its own set of festivals and here are some that are observed in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra .

Shravan Somvaram or Mondays in the month of Shravan are dedicated to Lord Shiva. Many devotees fast on these days. It is said that unmarried girls who want to get married should observe the Shravan Somvar fasts.

Mangala Gowri Pooja is performed by married women (sumangali) on all Tuesdays in Shravan for the well being of their husbands. Gowri (or Gauri) is also another name for Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva.

Shravan Shukravaram or Fridays in the Month of Shravan are dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity. For married women in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu, the most important Shravan Shukravaram is the one that falls on the Friday before the full moon (Shravana Pournami Purvasta Shukravarey). This is the day on which Varalakshmi Vratam is performed.

Shravan Paurnami or Shravan Poornima has become popular all over India as Raskha Bandhan, a festival that is essentially from North India and one that celebrates the relationship between a brother and sister. In Maharashtra, it is celebrated by the Koli community or the fisherman community as Narali Poornima. They worship Lord Varuna, the lord of the seas to bless them with a bountiful catch and protect them on rough seas. In Tamil Nadu, this day is also celebrated as Avani Avittam.

Gokulashtami, Krishnashtami, or Sri Krishna Janmashtami is the birth of Lord Krishna; He who gave the world the Bhagwat Gita and as a child was known to steal milk, curds, and butter from all households around him. In Maharashtra, Krishna’s antics as a child are enacted by youngsters (known locally as Govindas) who go around breaking pots of milk and curd tied high above the ground by forming human pyramids.
Then there are other festivals like Nag Panchami, Sithala Saatham, Pavitra Ekadasi etc,. Each of these festivals is marked by fasting or feasting or both!

Significance of Shravan Masa 

Shravan month is basically connected with the worship of Lord Shiva. People bring Ganga water from Haridwar or Gangotri on foot covering from 250 to 500 Kms on foot and do Abhishek of Rudra with that water. 

The month of Shravan is the fifth month of the Hindu calender beginning from Chaitra, and is the most auspicious month of the Chaturmas. On Purnima or full moon day, or during the course of the month the star 'Shravan' rules the sky, hence the month is called Shravan. This month is spread out with innumerably religious festivals and ceremonies and almost all the days of this month are auspicious. 

Shravan is considered the holiest month of the year. Each Monday of this month, known as Shravana Somvar, is a special day in Shiva temples where the dharanatra hangs over the linga or the idol to bathe it with holy water, day and night. Devotees pile the linga high with Bel leaves and flowers and fast till sunset. The nandadeep (24 hour lamp) burns steadily in the temples. 

Lord Shiva and Shravan Masa 

The legend says that when the churning of the oceans - Samudra Manthan - took place in the month of Shravan, fourteen different types of rubies came out. Thirteen of these were distributed amongst the demons, except Halahal (poison). Lord Shiva drank the Halahal and stored it in his throat. Hence the name Neelkantha (meaning blue throat) is attributed to Shiva. Read more about Lord Shiva 

To reduce the strong effect of the poison, Lord Shiva wore the crescent moon on his head. All the Gods, thereafter started offering the Ganges water to Lord Shiva to make lessen the effect of poison. 

Since, this happened in the month of Shravana, since then the Shiva devotees offer the Ganges water in this month. 

It is considered highly auspicious to wear a Rudraksha in Shravan month. As, Mondays or Somvars of Shravan month are specially observed with austerity. All Mondays are devoted to the worship of Shiva as this day is sacred to Lord Shiva. No other Mondays of other months are so greatly honored. 

The belief is that in Shravan month, offering milk to Lord Shiva earns a lot of punya.

Things to do during Shravan month 

• Wear Rudraksh, and also uses a Rudraksh 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.

...................Om Namah Shivaya ......................................

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