Shravan vrats and rituals

Contents


1. Vrats of the month of Shravan

At the mention of the month of Shravan, one remembers the vrats. It is difficult for the common people to perform conducts according to the Vedas. To overcome this difficulty, the Purans make a mention of vrats. In this, the special vrats fall in the month of Shravan. For example:

  • Jivantikapujan
  • Varadalakshmi vrat
  • Kajjali Trutiya
  • Budhi Teej
  • Pithori Amavasya

Due to the vrats falling in the month of Shravan, benefits are acquired at an individual and social level. This explains the importance of vrats and our heads bow with devotion at the holy feet of the Sages who created these vrats.

1.1 Jivantikapujan

This vrat is observed on every Friday of the Hindu lunar Shravan month. The deity associated with this vrat is Jivantika, that is, Jivati Devi. This deity protects small children. In this vrat, on the first Friday of Shravan, women draw a picture of deity Jivati on the wall with sandalwood and worship it. Nowadays printed picture is worshipped. Five married women (suhagan) having children, are invited to the house and after applying turmeric and vermillion on their forehead milk, sugar and roasted grams are given to them as holy sacrament (prasad). On the last Friday of the bright fortnight (Shukla Paksha) of Shravan a vrat is observed, that is

1.2 Varadalakshmi vrat

In the ritual of this vrat, a metal pot (kalash) is placed and Sri Varadalakshmi is invoked into it. The Shrisukta is recited and the devi is worshipped. Thereafter a naivedya of 21 anarasas is offered to her. Thereafter, brahmin, married women (suhagans) and celibates (Brahmacharis) are offered upayan, that is, gifts.

In South Bharat, Varadalakshmi vrat is observed on the last Friday of the bright fortnight (Shukla Paksha) of the Ashadh month. People believe that in the temples of Tiruvadi, Tiruvayur and Tiruputtur, Goddess Lakshmi herself worshipped Lord Shiv. Therefore these temples have special significance for the observance of this vrat. Begetting a son, prosperity and obtaining wealth and grains are the fruits of observing this vrat.

1.3 Kajjali Trutiya

This vrat is observed on Shravan Krushna Trutiya. The deity associated with this vrat is Srivishnu. This vrat is also known as ‘Satudi Teej’. At some places this vrat is observed on Bhadrapad Krushna Trutiya. But realistically it should be observed on Shravan Krushna Trutiya only.

1.4 Budhi teej

Elderly women sing various songs sitting on the swing. They are called kajari. The women observing this vrat consume only one meal. In this vrat, some other old woman is paid obeisance by touching her feet and sugar candies (batases) are gifted to her. In her place dry fruits, sweets etc. are given to the woman observing the vrat.

1.5 Pithori Amavasya

The Amavasya in the month of Shravan is known as Pithori Amavasya. In this vrat, the sixty four Yoginis are worshipped. A fast is observed for the whole day of Shravan Amavasya.

Earlier, in this vrat idols were made from flour (peeth). The food prepared to be offered as naivedya is also prepared from flour. Therefore this vrat is known as Pithori Amavasya. The children of the women observing the vrat of Pithori Amavasya are blessed with a long life.

2. Shravani ritual

It is also known as Upakarma or Rishitarpan. The ritual of Shravani is associated with the learning of the Vedas. Two rituals performed associated with the learning of Vedas are

  • Utsarjan ritual, that is, giving up of the Vedas
  • Upakarma ritual, that is, accepting of the Vedas

Upakarma vidhi is performed before commencing learning of Vedas. On the day of Shravani the sequence of studies for the next year is determined only after performing the Upakarma vidhi. If the learning of Vedas is to be discontinued, the Utsarjan vidhi is performed.

2.1 Utsarjan ritual

On the day of Shravani, the presiding brahmin takes his seat after ablutions in the morning. A sacrificial fire pit is created for Utsarjan-karma (temporary giving up of the Vedas for earning a living) and a similar one for Upakarma (resuming learning of the Vedas). First a ring of Darbh (holy grass) is worn and along with uttering of the desh-kal, resolve (sankalp) is made.

  • After this panch-gavya is consumed. Panch-gavya is a mixture of milk, curd, ghee, cow’s urine and cowdung.
  • Then ritualistic worship of Mahaganapati is done.
  • Utsarjan hom (fire sacrifice) is then performed.
  • Thereafter, oblations of ghee and cooked rice are offered to the deities in the sacrificial fire.

    Ritualistic Bathing: In ritualistic bathing, the body is purified by bathing using holy ash (bhasma-snan), cowdung (Gomay-snan), mud (mruttika-snan) and water.

  • The body benefits from the Absolute Fire Element (Tej-tattva) by applying holy ash.
  • The body benefits from the Absolute Air Element (Vayu-tattva) by applying cowdung.
  • By applying mud the body benefits from the Absolute Earth Element (Pruthvi-tattva).
  • Also due to application of the frequencies of the principles of holy ash, cowdung and mud on the body a covering is formed on the body and the black covering formed on it is removed.
  • Then holy grass (durva), sesame seeds and mud is placed on the head along with uttering of mantras.

Spiritual experiences: Some spiritual experiences of the seekers who participated in the Shravani ritual with spiritual emotion:

  • 1. Black energy going out of the body through yawning and burping
  • 2. Experiencing lightness in the body
  • 3. Fragrance emanating from the body
  • 4. Mind becoming stable and introverted
  • 5. Enhancing of concentration of the mind

It is clear from the above points that by purifying the body ritualistically in this way together with uttering of mantras, the mind also starts getting purified.

Worshipping the Sages and giving offerings (tarpan) to the Sages:

Here eight betel-nuts (suparis) are placed on a short wooden stool. Then the seven Sages namely Kashyap, Atri, Bhardwaj, Gautam, Jamdagni, Vasishtha, Vishwamitra and Arundhati are invoked and worshipped.

After this, by keeping the sacred thread on both the shoulders, offerings (tarpan) are given to the Sages.

Seven circles are created from the region of the Sages. These circles become one at the nirgun level to form a flow. This flow is emitted towards the Earth and is attracted at the place of the ritualistic worship of the Sages. Through this flow fountains of frequencies of Chaitanya spread in the environment. The people present there benefit from it.

2.2 Upakarma ritual

In this ritual oblations are offered in the sacrificial fire. In this balls are made from the barley flour and offered in the fire. Then the person participating in the Shravani ritual swallows the balls made from barley flour without chewing.

2.3 Adorning a new sacred thread (yadnyopaveet)

In the ritual of adorning the sacred thread, first the sacred thread is enriched by uttering mantras. By uttering the mantras with spiritual emotion the vibrations of spiritual energy emitted from the four Vedas are attracted towards the sacred thread and they revolve around it in an activated form.

The sacred thread is held in the hands and the Gayatri mantra is uttered. Then with prayers and spiritual emotion it is adorned. Then the old sacred thread is discarded. The subtle effect of adorning the sacred thread is as follows:

  • 1. Through this spiritual energy is activated in the sacred thread and it gets charged with this energy.
  • 2. Spiritual emotion is awakened in the person who adorns the sacred thread2a. The person achieves communion with God.
  • 3. A flow of God’s blessings in the form of Chaitanya is attracted towards the person.3a. Chaitanya is activated in his body.
  • 4. A flow of Divine Energy of Knowledge is attracted.
    4a. A spiral of Energy of Knowledge is created at the Adnya chakra of the person who wears the sacred thread

  • 5. Through the spiral of Energy of Knowledge a flow of Energy of wisdom (pradnya-shakti) spreads at the place of Anahat-chakra of the person.5a. A spiral of Energy of wisdom is created in the person’s body.
  • 6. A flow of Divine Chetana-shakti is attracted towards the person.6a. Through this flow a spiral of Chetana-shakti is created in his body.

    6b. Flows of Chetana-shakti spread in his body.

    6c. Also particles of Chaitanya-like energy spread in his body. Due to the Chetana-shakti generated in the body, the person acquires the energy to study the Vedas.

  • 7. The seven Kundalini chakras in his body get activated.
  • 8. A protective sheath is created around the body.
  • 9. He is protected from negative energies.

With this one can understand how a person is benefitted from the frequencies of the Divine Principle by wearing the sacred thread.

 

Shivamushti, Sixteen Mondays and Mangalagouri vrat

Contents


1. Vrats of the month of Shravan

At the mention of the month of Shravan, one remembers the vrats. It is difficult for the common people to perform conducts according to the Veds. To overcome this difficulty, the Purans make a mention of vrats. In this, the special vrats come in the month of Shravan. For example:

  • Shravan Monday vrat
  • Sixteen Mondays vrat
  • Mangalagauri vrat

1.1 Vrat of Shravan Monday

The presiding Deity to be worshipped for the vrat of Shravan Monday is Lord Shiva.

Ritual of vrat of Shravan Monday: In this, on every Shravan Monday, the temple of Lord Shiva is visited and He is worshipped. Some devotees of Shiva offer 108 bel leaves or bel leaves in specific number on the Shiva pindi on every Shravan Monday. Some people visit the holy places of Shiva on Shravan Monday like Kedarnath, Kashi, Babadham, Tryambakeshwar, Gokarna etc. and worship Him with various rituals. It is beneficial to chant the Name of Shiva on the day of Shravan Monday.

Fasting associated with the vrat of Shravan Monday: On this day if possible, ‘nirahar’ fasting is observed. Nirahar fasting means the fasting observed only by drinking water when necessary during the day. Some people observe ‘naktavrat. The period of three ghatika, that is, 72 minutes after the sunset or up to the sight of an asterism is called ‘naktakal’. The person who observes vrat does not consume anything during the day and takes food in this ‘naktakal’.

Some religious actions performed on Shravan Monday: At some holy places the Shiva devotees perform a Kavar journey either on any one Monday or on every Monday of the month as per their ability and offer the water carried in the Kavar on the Shiva pindi. This journey is performed on foot without using footwear.

This vrat is concluded on the fourth Monday of Shravan when at some holy places meals are offered to people. By observing this vrat, Lord Shiva is apeased and the devotee gets Shiva-sayujya mukti, which means he attains oneness with Lord Shiva. Combining with this vrat, some women observe one more sub-vrat on every Monday and it is Shivamushti vrat.

1.2 Shivamushti vrat

During the first five years after marriage, the married women take a single meal on every Shravan Monday and worship the Shiva-ling. Those who are not able to go to a temple and perform this ritual can make a resolve and perform this ritual at home only.

Following ingredients are necessary for ritual of vrat: Copper platter, a metal glass, a small copper kalash (metal pot) called achamani; sandalwood paste to offer to Shiva, white unbroken rice-grains, white flowers and bel leaves; a lamp with a wick, incense stick, camphor, an implement to light camphor-arti, a match-box for lighting a lamp of arti, washed rice to offer to Shiva as per the day, white sesame seeds, green gram or wheat, milk for offering as naivedya, a folded betel leaf or two betel leaves and a betel nut and some coins for offering to the priest.

Actual ritual of Shivamushti vrat:

  • Ritual is commenced by praying to Lord Shiva.
  • A sip of water (achaman) is taken first.
  • Thereafter following resolve is made:

    मम श्रीशिवप्रीतिव्‍दारा सर्वोपद्रवनिरासपूर्वं
    भर्तृस्‍नेह-अभिवृद्घि-स्‍थिरसौभाग्‍य-पुत्रपौत्र-
    धनधान्‍य-समृद्धि-क्षेम-आयु:-सुखसंपदादि-
    मनोरथ-सिद्घ्‌यर्थं शिवमुष्‍टिव्रतं करिष्‍ये ।

    This means, I am performing this Shivamushti vrat for destruction of all harmful things, increase of affection for husband, stability of the marital state, prosperity in respect of begetting of son, grandson, great grandson; wealth and grains; for fulfilment of wishes for welfare, longevity, pleasure, riches etc. through my unconditional love for Lord Shiva.

    An expansive feeling of family bond of the newly married lady is observed in this resolve. From this it is clear which life values the Sanatan Hindu Dharma is fostering. This shows the values fostered by Sanatan Hindu Dharma on a person.

  • Now sandalwood paste kept in the copper platter is offered on the Shiva pindi.
  • Thereafter the white unbroken rice grains is offered on the Shiva pindi.
  • Then white flowers are offered on the Shiva pindi.
  • After this, the bel leaves are offered on the Shiva pindi. The bel leaves are offered in upside down position and with the stem towards the pindi.
  • Then the washed rice grains are held in a fist and offered on the Shiva pindi. While offering a handful of rice, following shlok is recited:

    नम: शिवाय शांताय पंचवक्‍त्राय शूलिने ।
    शृंगि भृंगि महाकाल गणयुक्‍ताय शांभवे ।।

    This means I pay obeisance to Lord Shiva who is calm, with five heads, who holds a trident and who is accompanied by Gans like Shrungi, Bhrungi, Mahakal etc. and who is benevolent.

    The above act of offering handful of rice is repeated five times.

  • Thereafter a lit incense-cake is waved followed by waving a lit lamp.
  • Naivedya is offered to Lord Shiva.
  • In the end one prays to Lord Shiva with bhav once again.

Subtle effect of the vrat

One should perform worship in this manner on every Shravan Monday by offering a specific grain on the Shiva pindi.

  • On the first Monday, rice is used for Shivamushti.
  • On the second Monday, white sesame seeds are used.
  • On the third Monday, the Shivamushti is of green gram and
  • On the fourth Monday, wheat is used for Shivamushti.
  • If a fifth Monday falls in the month of Shravan in a year, barley is used.

1.3 Sixteen Mondays vrat

This fruit bestowing vrat is associated with Lord Shiva. In this vrat, fast is observed serially for sixteen Mondays and on the seventeenth Monday the vrat is concluded. This vrat is observed without having even water. The one’s for which this is not possible, sweet dish (halwa) or kheer made from grounded wheat, jaggery and ghee can be had once. All the desires of a person observing this vrat are fulfilled.

1.4 Mangalagouri

This vrat is associated with the deity is Mangalagouri. After marriage the married women observe this vrat for the first five years of their marriage. This vrat is observed on every Tuesday of the month of Shravan.

This vrat is observed at the parent’s place on the first Tuesday of the month of Shravan of the first year, and the second Tuesday at the in-laws place. The third and fourth Tuesdays of the first year and the subsequent Tuesdays falling in the month of Shravan for the next four years are observed by worshipping Goddess Mangalagouri at the relatives’ place.

In this vrat, sixteen step (Shodoshopchar) worship is done of the idols of Lord Shiva and Ganapati along with Mangalagouri. The essence of staying awake at night is also elucidated in this vrat. This vrat is concluded in the fifth year. In this vrat, apart from the items associated with marriage status, a saree and blouse, sweets (laddoo) and fruits are put in a shelving dish and offered to the mother in Upanayan. By observing the Mangalagouri vrat with utmost devotion:

  • Longevity of the husband is assured.
  • Prosperity is acquired.
  • Death is delayed, that is, there is an enhancement in the lifespan.