The Sanskrit word ‘Pradosh’ means ‘the sunset time,’ and it denotes the twilight hours of the day. It is, however, only the sunset hours of the 13th lunar day of Triyodashi that is referred to as Pradosh or pradosham. This duration is generally believed to last for around two and a half hours, starting from about 90 minutes before sunset and extending up to 60 minutes after that. This Pradosh occasion falls during both, the waxing and waning phases of the Moon, and hence usually occurs twice a month and 24 times a year.

The duration of Pradosh is considered highly auspicious for worshipping Lord Shiva, the supreme God of destruction.

The Mythology of Pradosh

‘Neelkant’ is one of the well-known names of Shiva that is born out of an attribute of his and the scared Pradosh is closely associated with it.

Once it so happened that the Devas, with the help of the Asuras, took on the onerous task of churning the vast ocean of milk, for the purpose of getting from it, Amrut, the elixir of eternal life. While many precious things started coming out of the ocean, there emerged suddenly a deadly poison known as Alahala. It was so potent that it could simply envelop the entire universe with its vicious hold and destroy all lives that existed on it. As the beings stood stunned, the God of destruction stepped in, assuming the role of the Lord of protection, accepted the lethal liquid and drank it himself. While the world heaved a sigh of relief, his consort Devi Parvathi became worried about its possible effect on the Lord and stopped it at his throat itself. This turned Shiva’s neck region blue and got him the name ‘Neelkant,’ the Lord with a blue throat.

This amazing incident is said to have happened at the twilight hour of a Triyodashi, and that came to be observed as the holy Pradosh. It is believed that the Lord who saved the people on that first Pradosh, will continue with his benevolent act on all the Pradosh occasions.

Pradosh Vrat

Pradosh is a day meant for worship and religious activities. The observance of the day goes by the name Pradosh vrat and consists mainly of fasting during the day and offering prayers to Shiva in the evening Pradosh time.

Pradosh fasts are of different types. While some are observed from dawn to dusk on that day, others are held for 24 hours, from that morning to the next. Also, some are total fasts where devotees take only water, while others are partial in nature where people consume milk and fruits during that time. Some devotees also keep awake during the night, devoting the time to prayers and chanting.

While people do Shiva-worship in the Pradosh evening at homes, many people visit temples to take part in the special worships there. These mainly involve abhishekams, the holy baths done to Shiva and to his mount Nandi, the sacred bull, poojas and processions of the deities around the temples, amidst singing and chanting of sacred hymns. Shiva is said to be very fond of Bilva leaves, and hence pooja is performed at many places using the scared Bilva leaves, which is considered highly auspicious and also beneficial.

Benefits from Pradosh Vrat

Getting Shiva’s unrestrained blessings can be said as the greatest possible benefit of observing Pradosh vrat. The legend Shiva Puran, however, lists other rewards too which come in the form of prosperity, good progeny, happiness, and peace.

The term ‘Pradosh’ also means ‘removal of sins,’ and that remains as one of the crucial benefits of this austerity. Pradosha vrat can relieve devotees of their sins accumulated over the past several births and lead them towards Moksha, the eternal freedom.

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