Pradhosam has two meanings: 1: removal of dhosam (sins) and 2: it’s the night before a day.
There are five types of Pradosham:
1) Nithya pradhosam – occurs daily 430pm – 630pm.
2) Paksha pradhosam – Occurs on the 13th thithi (Trayodasi) of both lunar phases.
3) Maasa pradhosam – On 13th thithi on Sukla paksham (rising moon phase)
4) Maha pradhosam – also called Sani pradhosham – Any pradosham occuring on a saturday is considered special and is equivalent to worshipping on pradosha for 12 years.
5) Pralaya pradhosam – Occurring at the end of universe.
Always chant the sacred mantra – Om Sivaya namah, especially during the pradosham times.
Of all the gods, Siva is the supreme. Of all the rivers, Akasha Ganga is the best. Of all the gems, Manikkam (Ruby) is the best. Of all the Vratams, Maha Pradosham is the best. This vratam is important for all saivites. Chant om Sivaya nama during these times as many times as possible. Many benefits come to those to pray to Siva on pradosham days. They will be healthy, wealthy, gain respect, have wonderful children and more.
Siva is the most compassionate of all gods. He did not go to war with any. Rama went to fight Ravana, Krishna fought Kamsa, Narasimha found Iranya. He just teased yama (not kicked him). Appar swamy prays to siva: Oh Lord with Kunitha puruvam (curved eyebrow) – eyebrow never became straight in anger for him, Kondrai vayil punsirupum (smile in red lips), pavalam pol meniyum – bright appearance, Don’t give me anymore birth.
When a child cries for milk – how much will you give? a cup, a small tumbler? He gave sea like when sundarar cried. Ramalinga swamy says – Vallikanavan thanai endra vallan avan bhavani vara kanden: I see the philanthropist who gave us the husband of Valli. He gave us amritha, he took poison, he gave us angels and he kept the demons, he gave us home and he took the cemetery for living.
He gave Narai (white hair) only to humans – crows don’t get it, elephants doesn’t, cows don’t age with white hair. He gave it only to humanity. It is not narai, it is Yama’s lawyer notice showing your time is up soon. With that fear, we start to pray to god more living all these years forgotten about him. Not only humans, but he gave the same Narai to Devas too (Three final phases: Narai, Therai – body old age and Moopu – death).
Tamil vedam says, thamakuvamai oppathu – no one equals him. Brahma had five heads, and had ego issue (His ego was because of his responsibilities as he is the creator:sitthi kartha). Siva just took away one head with his nails and ended up with four.
After constant fighting with Asuras, Devas were tired and wanted to attain immortality. They went to Vishnu, who instructed them to churn the big milk ocean (parkadal) which will yield the sweet Nectar (Amrith).
We say there are 330 million devas (33 crores). Vedas show us 33 devas in total (11 rudras, 12 adityas, 8 vasus, Indra and Prajapati) with a crore of incarnations of each.
The devas and asuras stuck a deal and set out to get the nectar. Vishnu took the form of a huge tortoise (Koorma Avatar) holding the Matragiri mountain and stabilized it. The snake Vasuki became the rope and they churned the ocean. The devas were clever and gave the head side of the snake to asuras and they took the tail end. With constant back and forth, the snake got agitated and started to spit poison. At the same time, a dangerous poison came out of the ocean – both combined called Hala-Hala (Hala-poison). Vishnu wanted to help, and as he got closer, the heat from the poison turned him black.
Not knowing what to do, they went to Kailash to seek Siva’s help. After getting permission from Nandhi, they met Siva and ask for his help in dealing with the poison.
Side story: Nandhi Deva is one blessed with Siva Swaroobam. Once Ravana was flying his chariot over tha kailash and he was stuck. Nandhi instructed him to go around as Siva is resting. Ravana replied, You look like a monkey and how can you stop me? Nandhi cursed, your city will be destroyed by a monkey. A thousand hanumans cannot destroy Lanka without this curse. It was Nandhi’s curse that helped Hanuman lit fire of Ravana’s lanka]].
It is customary to give the first harvest or first produce to the god. [Even now, some deposit their first month salary in a hundi]. Devas said, they were there to give the first product from the ocean churning to Siva as it is the custom. What they were saying is true, but what are they giving him? A potent and dangerous poison.
The ever compassionate Siva, smilingly asked to bring the Hala Hala poison; then rolled it in to a ball and took it like candy in one swoop. If the poison goes inside, the entire universe will be doomed. If it is outside, all these devas and asuras are doomed. Siva has a selfish reason too to take the poison. Without all the devas their wives will become widows and will cause more chaos. Wearing white sarees, everyone will look like kalaivani (goddess saraswathi) and no sumangali will be left to take aarthi even for parvathi.
He kept it in his throat without swallowing or spitting it out. [[Others point out Parvathi concerned about Universe put her hands around Siva’s neck and stopped the poison from moving further]]. When the poison lodged in his throat, his neck become blue, hence he called Neelakandan (blue-neck).
Siva resting on Parvati’s lap as she puts her hands around his neck to stop the poison from moving further– Suruttapalli Pallikondeshwarar temple- Andra Pradesh
He is also referred as Sugreevan – beautiful neck (greevam – neck), Murugan called Sathgreevan (six neck), Ravana called Dasa grevean – 10 heads/necks.
The devas relieved, went back to the churning. Out of the ocean, many great things came. Kamadhenu (cow) – which gives what you ask for, karpaga tree – which gives what you think, parimala, chintamani, mandagini, choodamani and many – everyone took their shares. Last came the sweet nectar (Amirtham). Vishu took jagan mohini form, cheated fellow asuras who helped to churn, and gave it to devas only.
The day Amrith appeared is Ekadasi (Auspicious day for Vainavites). The next day, on Dwadasi, the devas are celebrating and were joyful having attained immortality and forgot about thanking Lord Siva. If i dropped my pencil and someone pick and give it back, i would say thank you. If i say thank you to the person who gave my own pencil, don’t you think the great Siva should be thanked too for taking the poison.
Finally they realized the blunder – if he hadn’t taken the poison, we would have died that day. They took bath in Ganga and headed over to kailash to worship siva and perform Pooja [[Meaning: (poo – poorthi /completion, ja – creation) – to complete (end) the maya/karma in our mind and to create siva jynana (liberation)]].
They cried and prayed to him for forgiveness. The ever compassionate lord forgave them and performed his Rudra dance. With the celestials playing music and singing, Siva danced between the horns of Nandhi devar. This is called Anantha Thandavam (Happy Dance). Arunagiri explains this dance well in his poem: The Chandra (moon on siva’s head) also moves, Nandhi playing mathala (drums), Siva playing Udukai, Saraswathi playing veena and the position of his hair which was normally bent when tied up.
1. Chant Om Sivaya Namah whenever possible, especially during the pradosham hours.
2. On Pradosham days, take bath, observe fast, (observe general Vratam rules like celibacy, truthful, compassionate) and pray to Siva. It is recommended to visit Siva temples during the pradosha hours and participate in the worship.
3. If starting a yearlong fast, can be done from any pradosha, but especially recommend when starting and ending with a Sani pradosha.
4. Siva should be worshipped between the two horns of Nandhi Devar.
5. Do Soma sooktha pradakshinam during this time in the temple.
Interestingly, Nandi Devar is also worshipped with equal importance during Pradosha and is given a special abhisheka with milk, sandal paste, water, and other fragrant fluids. He is offered a very special dish made out of red rice (Puttarisi), sugar and ghee, which is later fed to the temple cow. Some people even take the liberty of whispering their wishes into Nandi’s ears to pass them onto Shiva, for during Pradhosha, Nandi is believed to be the closest to the Lord. It is also customary to have a darshan of the Shiva Linga through and in between the horns of Nandi, just the way Shiva had danced at the very first Pradosha.
Soma sooktha pradakshinam:
Pradakshina (Sanskrit), meaning circumambulation, consists of walking around in a 'circle' as a form of worship in Hindu ceremonies in India. The devotees walk around the garbha griha, the innermost chamber of the shrine housing the temple deity. It is done around sacred fire (Agni), trees and plants as well. Thus Pradakshina is done around Tulsi plant and Peepal tree. Pradakshina or Parikrama is done in pilgrimage centres also.
Pradakshina literally means: to the right (Dakshina means right). So in Pradakshina, one goes to the left hand direction to keep the deity around the Sanctum Sanctorum on one's right side. Pradakshina is one of the customary aspects of going to a temple. Typically, Pradakshina is done after the completion of traditional worship (pooja) and after paying homage to the deity. Pradakshina is supposed to be done with a meditative mood.
Above: Soma Sooktha Pradakshinam
During the Pradhosham time Soma Sutra Pradakshinam is the suggested way of circumambulating Sivalingam. In some of the temples this is followed always. A point to note here is that the Gomukhi is never crossed. Gomukhi is the place where the water after anointing (abhisheka tirtam) would be flowing northwards out. By doing this way of pradakshinam one does not step over this holy water
First saluting the Rishabha devar (Holy Bull) go in anti-clockwise and salute Chandikeswarar (not crossing the gomukhi).
Now return in the clockwise manner salute Rishabha and continue clockwise till the gomukhi (dont cross it again).
Then return in anti-clockwise direction salute the Rishabha again and proceed towards Chandikeswarar.
From there return back clockwise without worshiping Rishabha and reach the gomukhi (No crossing).
Finally return back anti-clockwise from there to salute Rishabha and continue to Chandikeswarar and return back to Rishabha and worship the shiva lingam (at the altar) by viewing through the space between the two horns of the Holy bull.
This is one Pradakshinam. Such Pradakshinas to be done for three times.
It is auspicious to have a darshan of Lord Shiva through the Horns of the Divine Bull on Pradosham days.
If you carefully observe the curve traced by doing the pradakshinam is very similar to the periphery of the CRESCENT. Hence this way of circumambulating is called SOMASUTRA PRADAKSHINAM.
"His foot twirling, with the snake swirling wildly in the sky,
Whose breath causes fire from His forehead to spread out into space.
With the auspicious Damaru's Dhimi Dhimi Dhimi Dhimi,
Danced Siva, His forceful Tandava, to His Damaru's beat"
-Siva Tandava Stotram
“He who worships Parameswara during the Pradosham Period,
With the offering of lotus flowers and a full concentration,
Will be blessed with long life, excellent wife, children and friends,
And will come into lots of prosperity and luck in this world”
வானாகி மண்ணாகி வளியாகி ஒளியாகி
ஊனாகி உயிராகி உண்மையுமாய் இன்மையுமாய்க்
கோனாகி யானெனதென் றவரவரைக் கூத்தாட்டு
வானாகி நின்றாயை என் சொல்லி வாழ்த்துவனே.
- மாணிக்க வாசகர்
“Thou art the Sky, the wide earth art thou. Thou art the Wind, the bright light art thou.
Thou art the body and the very soul art thou. Thou art existence and non-existence too art thou.
Thou art the King too and these people who say “Myself and Mine”, their very puppeteer art thou.
What can I say? How can I praise thee? For isn’t it you who will be praising yourself from within me?”