The first Pradosham of April, 2017 fell on a Saturday and is thus known as Shani Pradosham or Shani Pradosham Vrata. According to Hindu astrology Saturn is known to affect one adversely on occasions when it placed in a certain position in one's horoscope. A prayer to God, especially on Saturdays, is said to mitigate one’s hardships. Thus, it is believed that by observing a Vrata (vow) and offering prayers to Lord Shiva on Shani Pradosham, one can escape from the ill effects of Lord Shani (one of the Navagrahas or nine celestial Gods).
|Kumbhabhishekam on Periyar Nandi, 5th Prakaram|
|Devotees watching worship of Big Nandi|
|Kumbhabhishekam of Chinna Nandi, 4th Prakaram|
|Alankaram of Siva and Parvathi|
|Aarti to the Gods on Golden Rishaba|
|Nandi at Siva Sannidhi Flagpost|
|Circumambulation with Gods on golden Risbhaba|
|Circumambulation, Arunachala background|
A story about Shani Pradosham Vrata follows goes as follows:-
Shani Pradosham Vrata Mahatmyam
. . . At the place known as Kurvapur there lived a learned Brahmin, His wife's name was Ambika. She gave birth to many children but, except the last one, none of the others survived. Unfortunately, that boy who survived, was dull headed. All efforts of his father to teach him were of no avail, as the boy had no grasping power at all. This was a cause of frustration and anxiety to the parents. The father died in dejection. Having no support, the son and mother were thrown into penury and had no means of livelihood. They had to take to begging and had to leave a very hard and miserable life. In despair they both decided to end their lives by throwing themselves into the river. As they approached the river bank with the object of putting end to their lives, the woman saw Sripada Sri Vallabha who came there for his bath.
Seeing a halo around his face and divinity in his looks, the mother’s aching heart was soothed, and her fatalistic desperation was overcome by newborn peace, hope and joy in her heart. The compassion and love in Sripada's looks—love surpassing even that of a thousand mother's instilled and charged new life in her depressed and broken heart. She fell at his feet and vented out her anguish, saying, "How I wish I will have a son like you in my next birth at least." "So be it, mother!" said Sri Vallabha. He added, "But you will have to observe a particular Vrata; you will have to worship Lord Maheswara in the evenings on Trayodasi Thithi days coinciding with the Saturdays called Shani Pradosham. It is a powerful Vrata, and if dutifully performed, it will certainly endow you a son like Lord Krishna Himself." He narrated the following anecdote:-
“Once upon a time, there lived a king named Chandrasen in Ujjain. He had a friend by name of Manibhadra, an ascetic and who was deeply devoted to Lord Maheshwara. Lord Maheshwara, very pleased with Manibhadra's devotion, gave him the celestial gem in the shape of Marakatha Linga. This gem, by its mere touch, could turn iron into gold, and fulfill any wish of the person who wore it. Manibhadra gifted the gem to Chandrasena, which bought prosperity to his people and kingdom. All the kings and people of other regions came to hear about the gem. Some of the neighboring kings wanted to get possession of the gem, and they plotted and invaded Ujjain. That day happened to be Shani Trayodasi day, and the king, was his wont, was engaged in worship in the Siva Temple. Although he was told about the invasion of his kingdom by the enemy kings, he remained unperturbed and unmoved, and did not leave from his place of worship.
One of the cowherd boys saw the King's worship, and he also was seized with a desire to worship likewise. He picked up a round stone and started worshiping it as Shiva Linga. It was getting late in the night, but the boy remained totally absorbed in the Puja. As the boy did not return home, while all his companions returned to their homes, his mother felt worried. She came searching for him, and found him performing worship. She asked him to stop the Puja and return home along with her instantly. But the boy refused to move from there.
The furious mother threw out what she believed to be a stone, which the lad had been worshiping as Shiva Linga. The boy distraught at the sacrilege committed by his mother in her anger, wished to atone for her sin by giving up his own life.
Lord Shiva moved by the sincere anguish of the boy, appeared before him in the form of the Linga, dazzling with a million Sun's effulgence. From this manifestation of the Jyotirlinga, emerged the Mahakaleshwar Temple.
The boy prayed to Siva to pardon his mother for the sacrilege she had committed. Lord Shiva said the boy's mother had already earned great merit as she had witnessed the Puja which he (the boy) had been.
Meanwhile the brilliance of the light, emanating from the Jyotirlinga was spreading far and wide, far up to the horizon in all directions. The Kings attacking the city saw the marvel and realised that divine protection was there on Ujjain and it's King. Thus peace was made and Ujjain remained safe, all due to the power of Shani Pradosham Puja.
The king made the shepherd ruler of his community and gifted him many villages to rule. The penitent mother of was transformed by witnessing the emergence of the Jyotirlingam and in her next birth she was born as Yashoda. As foretold by Lord Shiva, she became the foster-mother of Lord Sri Krishna. This was the merit she earned by merely witnessing the Shani Pradosham Puja being done by her son. Had she done the Puja herself, Lord Krishna would have been born to herself as her own son.”
Sripada Sri Vallabha finally said to Ambika, "if you do the Shani Pradosha Puja devotedly and regularly, you will certainly bear God himself as your child in your next life." The sage then blessed Ambika's son. With the mere touch of Sripada, the boy became fully enlightened and al wisdom and knowledge dawned on him. The boy became proficient in all the scriptures and his mother was made happy beyond all measure.
[From: Sri Guru Charitra]