24 February 2013

Sani Pradosham, Arunachaleswarar Temple

Yesterday, February 23, Sani Pradosham was celebrated at Arunachaleswarar Temple. Pradosham which is a worship connected to Lord Shiva and is a bimonthly occasion which falls on the thirteenth day of every fortnight in the Hindu Calendar.
If Pradosham falls on a Monday it is called Soma Pradosham (or Chandra Pradosham), on a Tuesday it is known as Bhauma Pradosham, and on a Saturday is called Sani Pradosham. Among all Pradoshams, Soma Pradosham and Sani Pradosham are the most significant ones observed by devotees. An auspicious 3 hour period, 1.5 hours before and after sunset is regarded as the optimum time for worship of Lord Shiva. 

During the day of Pradosham a fast observed from sunrise to sunset is considered highly beneficial. During pradosham, the bull Nandi (in Shiva Temples in South India) is worshipped and the idol of Shiva with Parvati in a seated pose on Nandi are taken on procession in the Temple compound.

Lord Shiva and Parvati

Worship of Bull Nandi

Gods on Nandi in procession

Performing circumambulation of Lord Shiva shrine

Large crowd of devotees attendant

Legend of Sani Pradosham 

Sani Pradosham, the Pradosham which falls on a Saturday, corresponds to the planet Saturn and is associated with the Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. 

According to legend, there was a ruler of Ujjain called Chandrasen, who was a pious devotee of Shiva and worshipped him continuously. He was blessed with a celestial gem which could create miracles. Rivals of Ujjain, King Ripudaman and King Singhaditya of neighbouring kingdoms decided to attack Ujjain to appropriate the celestial gem. King Chandransena unaware of the impending attack was involved in his worship of Lord Shiva. A farmer's boy (Shrikhar), walking on the grounds of the palace heard the king chant Lord Shiva's name. However on being discovered by the King’s guards, the farmer’s boy was removed from the palace grounds and sent to the outskirts of the city near the river Kshipra. 

Shrikhar (the farmer’s boy) continued to pray and news spread to a priest named Vridhi. Who upon the urgent pleas of his sons, also started to pray to Lord Shiva. The attack by the enemies of the King occurred on a Saturday and with the help of the powerful demon Dushan, (blessed by the God Brahma to be invisible), the invading Kings plundered the city and attacked the inhabitants, who were all Shiva devotees. Upon hearing the pleas of his helpless devotees, Shiva appeared in his Mahakal (form of light) and destroyed the enemies of King Chandrasen. 

Upon the request of his devotees Shrikhar and Vridhi, Shiva agreed to reside in the city and become the chief deity of that kingdom. From that day on, (at that place) Shiva resided in his light form as Mahakal in a Lingam that was formed on its own from the powers of Shiva and Parvati. 

It is believed that people worshipping Shiva on Sani Pradosham will be free from the fear of death and diseases and have an increase in their worldly wealth. 

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