Vrat and Fasts

Shani Dev Kee Mahimaa

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23-Vrat and Fasts

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Vrat and Fasts
[not in the book]

Any Upavaas or Vrat is directly or indirectly connected with some sort of material comfort.

Fast on Sunday is devoted to Soorya Dev - the Sun
Eye problems or those pertaining to heat and skin may affect one. Blessings from Soorya enable one to receive honor and fame and achieve success over enemies. Food is eaten once in the day before sunset. Food must not be eaten after sunset. It must be free of salt and oil. It must not be Taamasik. If somehow one cannot eat before sunset, then he should eat next morning after worshipping Soorya Dev. One must offer prayers to Soorya and read or listen to the prescribed Kathaa. Only then one can eat. To appease Soorya one should wear ruby. When inclined to give charity one must give wheat, red pulses, jaggery, or metals like gold and copper or ruby amongst gems. The best time to give charity is at sunset.

Among the several myths about this Upavaas, dedicated to Lord Shiv, has numerous stories, but three have gained popularity – the first is the story of a poor Brahmin gaining wealth due to Monday fasting, second is the story of a rich merchant begetting a son after long wait and the subsequent death of the son and his rebirth due to the grace of Lord Shiv and Paarvatee and the third story is the most famous involving the game of dice played between Shiva and Paarvatee.

Fast on Monday is devoted to Chandramaa - the Moon
It is believed that those people who observe Upavaas on Monday will have their desires fulfilled and will be blessed with wisdom. In some areas, fasting on Mondays is observed by unmarried women to get an ideal husband. Prayers are offered to Lord Shiv and Goddess Paarvatee. Since they had a long, happy married life, fasting on Mondays helps one find a suitable marital partner. There are three kinds of fasts observed on Mondays -
(1) Simple every Monday fast - this simple fast is observed on every Monday just for Shiv Jee and Paarvatee Jee;
(2) Pradosh fast - Pradosh fast falls on every 13th day of the fortnight. In this fast the worship is done just before sunset. When this Pradosh falls on a Monday it is called the Som Pradosh - the fast to seek pardon for a fault, 
(3) 4-5 week Shraavan Maas Monday fast;
(4) 16 weeks Monday fast - a fast for 16 Mondays.

The procedure to worship to be followed is similar, but in each case the Kathaa to be read or heard is different. Food is eaten once in the day. Cereals are permitted. After prayers to Shiv and Paarvatee one must read or hear the appropriate Kathaa. To appease Chandramaa one must wear pearls and silver. When inclined to give charity, one must give white things like rice, white clothes, conch shells, silver or pearls.

Mondays in the Hindi month of Shraavan (July – August) is dedicated to Lord Shiv and Hindus in North India observe Shraavan Maas Somvaar Vrat. In this month, Shiv Ling is bathed with holy water from River Gangaa or water mixed with raw milk and Bilva (Bel) flowers and leaves are offered to the Shiv Ling. Fasting is observed from sunrise to sunset on all Mondays in the month. Married women observe the fast for a happy and long married life. Unmarried women observe it for getting good husbands. Men observe it for a happy and peaceful life. Those who observe fast eat only a single vegetarian meal. The importance of Shraavan Som Vaar is because it is believed that the Saagar Manthan (Churning of the Milky Ocean) took place in this month and Lord Shiv drank the poison Halaahal poison to save the world during this period. Offering milk to Lord Shiva in this month is considered highly auspicious. People also worship Paarvatee, Ganesh and Nandee Jee along with Shiv Ling.

Fast on Tuesday is devoted to Mangal - the Planet Mars
It is believed that fasting for 12 Tuesdays helps overcome the malefic effects of this planet. All kinds of obstacles are overcome. It also brings fame and honor. Prayers must be offered to Hanumaan. Use of red clothes and red flowers is auspicious.

Mangal Vrat is observed by those couples who wish to have a son. Other benefits include happiness in the family. People who believe in astrology observe fast to alleviate the harmful effects associated with the planet Mangal or Mars. Those who undertake the fast on Tuesdays only take a single meal. It is a whole day fast. The single meal on the day is usually any food made of wheat and jaggery. Food prepared of wheat and jaggery must be eaten once in the day. After prayers to Hanuman one must read the Kathaa.

Most people observe the fast for 21 Tuesdays without a break. People wear red colored clothes on the day and offer red flowers to Lord Hanuman. It is believed that Lord Hanuman will help his devotees in overcoming difficulties in life especially those that arises from the activities of Mangal Graha.

Fast on Wednesday is devoted to Budh - the Planet Mercury
One must preferably eat green things once in the day. One must pray to Lord Shiv and follow it by reading or hearing the Kathaa. To appease Budh one must wear emerald in gold. When inclined to give charity one must give Moong (green gram - Phaseolus mungo), Kastooree (musk), green clothes, gold, copper and five gems.

Fast on Thursday is devoted to Brihaspati - the planet Jupiter
It promotes greater learning and prosperity. Prayers must be offered to Brihaspateshwar Mahaadev, followed by reading or hearing the Kathaa. One must preferably wear yellow clothes and use yellow sandalwood. Food must be eaten only once. One must include yellow pulses in the meal. To appease Brihaspati one should wear topaz in gold. When inclined to give charity one should give yellow things like turmeric, salt, yellow clothes, rice, yellow pulses, gold and topaz.

You may keep Brihaspati Vrat as many times you want. Generally people keep 7, 11, 21, 40, 48, 51, or 108 times or Life Time. Its not necessarily to observe fast, but Vrat is considered a short route to appease God. Only listening of Kathaa will also do. Even if you don’t listen to Kathaa or do any thing for Brihaspati Dev, you may be benefited by just thinking of its “Mahimaa”.

Fast on Friday is devoted to Shukra - the planet Venus
The procedure for this fast is similar to that of Monday. It is preferable that food is eaten once a day. It must include white preparations like Kheer (rice porridge) or Rabadee (milk preparation). To appease Shukra one must wear Mani (a gem) in silver. Those inclined to charity must give rice, white clothes, a cow, ghee, diamonds and gold. Its Kathaa is given here.

Fast on Friday is also devoted to Santoshee Maa
She is the daughter of Sri Ganesh Jee and blesses one with happiness and contentment. Prayers are offered to her followed by her Kathaa and Aaratee. Food must be eaten once. This is a strict fast and nothing sour or acidic must be eaten or offered to anyone else. It is customary to fast for 16 Fridays. On the final day, young boys are fed. Devotees wear white colored dress on this day. The fasting on Shukravar begins at sunrise and ends with sunset. The person fasting only partakes in the evening meal. White colored food like Kheer or milk is the most preferred. This fast is kept for various reasons which include removal of obstacles, for a child, happy family life etc etc.

Fast on Saturday is devoted to Shani Dev - the planet Saturn
The effect of Shani Dev is harsh and lasts for a long time, therefore this fast is observed. Shani Dev is fond of all kinds of black things like black clothes, black Urad, black sesame, iron and mustard oil. Prayers are offered to Shani followed by the Kathaa and Aaratee. To appease Shani one must use sapphire and iron. When inclined to give charity one should give black things like an iron vessel with oil, an umbrella, a black shoe, black clothes, black sesame and black Urad.

It is believed that those who have the blessing of Lord Hanuman are protected from the wrath of Shani. Shani Dev do not harm them. Legend has it that Lord Hanuman had rescued Shani from Raavan. This happened during the burning of the Lanka episode in the epic Raamaayan. Lord Shani had then promised that he would not trouble Lord Hanuman devotees. Therefore many people make it a point to worship Hanuman at home or in temples. Black is the preferred color on Saturday. Black colored items like sesame seeds (Kaalaa til), sesame oil, black clothes, and black gram whole are offered to Shani. It must be noted here that the color of the idol of Shani is also always black in color and is made of iron. Those devotees who fast on Saturday only take a single meal that too in the evening after prayers. Food prepared usually consists of sesame (Til) or black gram or any other black colored food item. Salt is avoided by many on the day.

Some devotees worship a black iron idol of Shani. Some worship the Peepal Tree and tie thread around its bark. Black colored items like sesame oil and black clothes are also donated on the day.

 

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Created by Sushma Gupta on 8/9/2008
Contact:  bhagvatjee@yahoo.com
Updated on
05/25/09

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