In Shiva temples, special poojas are performed during Pradhosham. What is the reason behind observing Pradhosham? Are there any specific requirements that ought to be observed during Pradhosham?
Pradhosha pooja is one of the most important among the poojas performed to Lord Shiva. In Shukla Paksha (15 moon days from New moon to Full moon) and Krishna Paksha (15 moon days from Full moon to New moon) the evening of the Trayodasi (thirteenth moon day) between 4.30 p.m. to 6.00 p.m. is called Pradhosha. It comes once in fifteen moon days.
Pradhosha time is especially meant for praying to Lord Shiva. Praying in that time is believed to free us from all our sins and gives moksha finally (hence the name Pradhosha). During Pradosha time a special type of circumambulating called Somasutra Pradhakshinam is done.
The origin of Pradhosha is related to churning of milky ocean by Devas and Asuras.
Once the gods (Devas) and the demons (Asuras) were churning the milky ocean hoping to extract Amirtham (Divine Nectar) with the help of Vasuki, the serpent king. Vasuki, who was used as a rope around Mount Meru to churn the ocean couldn't bear the pain. So, it started spewing venom (Halahala). Frightened by the effects the venom could cause, Brahma took to his heels. Vishnu’s bluish body darkened further. The Devas, being chased by the Halahala, ran towards Lord Shiva to plead him for help.
At Kailash, the Devas ran around (circumambulated) Shiva and tried to escape from the poison. But the poison sprout in front of them forcing them to turn back and run in the opposite direction. This repeated a few times before Shiva sent Sundarar to fetch the poison and eventually drank it to save the world.
From then on, the period during which the Devas circumambulated around Lord Shiva is regarded as Pradhosha and the way they circumambulated (as given in the picture below) is referred to as the Somasutra Pradhakshinam.
Source of the Image: http://arunachalamystic.blogspot.in
According to hindupedia, If, the period between sunset to next sunrise is divided into 5 equal parts, the first part is called Pradosha Kalam and it denotes the end of day time and the beginning of night. This is also called the period of Asuras (Raaksha Neram).
Pradosha Kaalam is that period of time during which Lord Shiva is known to have evolved out of His unsteady state (due to the effect of the poison he had consumed) and performing Ananda Thandava (Tandavam is the dance of Lord Shiva) on top of his Rishabha Vahana (Sacred Nandi Bull). During this pradosha time, Lord Shiva is known to be in the most ecstatic of moods as he has been successful in saving mankind from the ill effects of the Poison 'hala'. His Ananda Thandava blesses all the three worlds and the Devathas in turn pray to him. Lord Shiva is known to be very generous giving away Vardhan (boons), although, he would test his devotees to the core. To those devotees who pray to him during the Pradosha Kaalam, duly observing fast, performing puja, chanting of Rudram, visiting sacred places of interest, He brings prosperity and happiness in life.
Pradosham is a specific window of time that occurs during the day. It is believed that the energy during this time makes it easier to dissolve and release karma. Stories, prayers and rituals have been built around this time to help us better work with and understand the significance of these karma busting energies.
There are three different energy levels to Pradosham depending on which day of the month that it occurs. Each energy level indicates how much karma may be released at that time. Pradosham
are a gift from the Universe to help speed our evolution and make our lives easier and happier.
When does it occur?
All Pradoshams occur between 1 - 1/2 hours before and right up until the moment of sunset in the time zone where you are physically. The smaller energy level Pradoshams occur every day during this time.
The middle energy level Pradoshams occur twice each month - on the 13th moon day after the New Moon and after the Full Moon. To determine on which days these Pradoshams occur, begin your count on the actual New Moon or Full Moon day and count that day as "1". Continue the count until you reach "13".
If you are counting from the Full Moon, Pradosham will normally occur two days before the next New Moon, and if you are counting from the New Moon Pradosham will normally occur two days before the next Full Moon.
The larger energy level Pradosham occurs when one of the 13th moon days occurs on a Saturday. The planet Saturn is considered the Lord of Karma who delivers many of life's tougher lessons to help us refine and evolve their souls. On a Saturday Pradosham it is believed that Lord Shiva has more influence over Saturn and can cause Saturn to loosen or release entirely some of the karmic bonds that limit us.
Pradosham and God Realization
The purpose of our human life is God realization. This is an often repeated statement. But Siddhas tell you that you can get to your life purpose only when your karma has been wiped clean, and the time is ripe for grace to flow to you. When that happens an intense flowering happens, and both the material and spiritual worlds open up for you. You have a choice then on the abundance that you are presented with.
Whether you take the spiritual or material route, one thing is certain: you have to completely eliminate your karma to even to get there. Pradosham rituals give a great opportunity to build a road to prosperity and true happiness. On the 13th Moon Pradosham days, special poojas are offered to Lord Shiva who eliminates your karma and helps to bring light into your life
Pradhosham is observed once in 15 days on the trayodasi (13th day) of a paksha - Shukla Paksha and Krishna Paksha. However one comes before the Amavasya is considered holy.
In fact every day between 4.30 p.m. and 6.00 p.m. is called Pradhosha vela or samayam. Praying during pradosha will mitigate our papa (sinsa) and paves way seeking Lord Mahadeva’s blessings for good life.
It is said the Lord danced between the horns of the Nandhi (holy bull) the during the pradosha vela. It is auspicious for us to visualise the scene and chant the bhagavn nama.
During Prodhosha Abhisheka to Shiva with the following is considered fruitful:
Milk long life; Ghee Moksha: Curd good children; Honey melodious voice; Rice powder frees from debts; Sugar cane juice good health: Panchamruth abundant wealth; lemon removes fear of death; Sugar removes enmity; coconut water gives enjoyment; Annam majestic life; Sandal gives Lakshmi's grace. Source: Siva Purana