Q: Please could you tell me, when does the Shravan fast begin for those living in Durban, as I would like to observe it?
A: According to Hindu scriptures, there are four holy months in the year. Together these are called “Chaturamas”. It starts with “Shravan” and ends with the “Kartik” month.
“Shravan” month, which is popularly known as “Sawan”, is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This year Sawan begins on July 5 and ends on August 3.
During this time, try to take immense benefit with your devotion. But for some communities, like Gujarati, Marathi, etc, it will start a few days later or earlier as per their calendar and custom.
Legends and stories:
- The legend says churning of oceans took place in this month.
- Naag Panchmi is celebrated on July 25 of the Sawan month. On this day in India, snake charmers can be found in the Shiva temples. Devotees worship Lord Shiva and offer milk to the snakes.
Astrologically, if one does this it helps to get rid of snake dreams and minimises negative effects of planet “Rahu” and “Ketu”.
Some species of snakes are considered sacred for Lord Shiva and Vishnu devotees, if anyone kills a snake due to ignorance, this fast will help to overcome the after-effects.
- This day is also very important as Lord Krishna defeated the serpent “Kaaliya” and saved the people of “Vrindavan”.
It is believed that out of all gods, Lord Shiva can be easily pleased and he grants boons easily.
Worship of the Shivalinga is considered the prime worship for the devotees of Lord Shiva.
In “Sawan” month, immense blessing is gained and wishes can be fulfilled quicker by doing the following:
- It is best to maintain a vegetarian fast in this month.
The main days to observe the fast during this month are Mondays and Saturdays. Devotees who want to observe Sawan fast completely for one month, and should start from July 4 (Guru Purnima).
- No other Mondays in the year are so greatly honoured. These Sawan Mondays are extremely auspicious and observed by many to get quick results.
Astrologically, unmarried girls must also observe this fast to get their desired husband and have a happy married life.
Many devotees observe 16 Mondays (Solah Somwar) of fasting, from the first Monday of Sawan month.
- Married women, especially, observe the fast and perform Shiva Puja (prayer) with sincerity to appease Goddess Parvati, who is also regarded as “Maa Gauri” – one who bestows marital bliss and a long and prosperous married life.
- Varalakshmi Vratam: It will be observed on July 31. Those who pray and fast on this auspicious day will please Mother Lakshmi easily.
- Astrologically, it would be greatly beneficial if a married couple observed this month of Sawan to attain blessings.
On July 30, couples who want to have a child should pray to the almighty and refrain from eating grains. This day is called Putrada Ekadashi.
- If all Saturdays in this month are observed, it will help one to escape from the bad influence of Lord Shani (planet Saturn).
Do the following to get greater astrological results in a short time:
- Light a mustard oil diya at a Peepal tree.
- Read Sunderkand or the Shree Hanuman Chalisa under a peepal tree.
- Take a lota (type of spouted vessel made of brass, copper or plastic) and fill with water and offer to the roots of a Peepal tree.
- It is extremely beneficial to society if temples include a programme on this day.
- Walk around the tree seven times.
- Lord Shiva fulfils the wishes of his devotees without their asking if he is worshipped with “bel leaves” (bilva-patra) especially during Sawan month and on Maha Shivaratri. It is believed that just by offering bel leaves with the stalk on the Shivalinga, sins of three births are removed.
NB: The upper side of the leaf should be placed on the Shivalinga while offering.
- If the bel leaves are not available then one should offer “Panchaamrit”.
- If the above cannot be done, water can be offered to the Shivalinga. You can do “mansik puja” and offer the above on Shivalinga. Mansik puja means the devotee mentally offer items and dedicates everything to the Lord.
- One should chant “Om Namah Shivaya” as much as possible during this month.
- Another very powerful mantra to be chanted in this month is the “Mahamritunjaya” mantra: “Om Tryambakam Yajamahe Sungandhim Pustivardhanam Urvarukamiva Bandhanan Mrityor Muskshiya Maamritat”.
- There are many fasts that are recommended for women during this month to get marital bliss. One of them is Mangala Gauri Vrat, that is observed by married women on each Tuesday in the Hindu month of Shravan. Women, especially newlyweds, observe it to seek conjugal bliss from Goddess Gauri.
- According to Hindu scriptures every day of Sawan is important, therefore I am unable to explain all benefits in details in this column. It is of utmost importance for one to observe and pray in this sacred month. Any prayer done in this month will give you manifold benefits.
- Lord Shiva is called “Ashutosh” as he pleases so easily and quickly. He grants wealth, health, prosperity, longevity, marital bliss and happiness to his devotees.
Pray to Lord Shiva to open your way astrologically.