The month of Sawan or Shravan considered auspicious for worshiping Lord Shiva. Staunch devotees of Lord Shiva dedicate the whole month for worshiping the Mahadev. Temples, and shrines of Lord Shiva see a huge influx of devotees during this month. The Shivaratri which comes in the month of Sawan is known as Sawan Shivratri and the celebration and devotion reach its zenith on this day. This year Sawan Shivratri will be celebrated on the 21st of July.
Devotees keep a fast on Sawan Shivratri to mark their devotion and reverence for Lord Shiva. They offer milk, honey, Ganga Jal,’Bel’ leaves, fruits etc to the ‘Shivlinga’ and pray for protection against all evils.
It is believed that, if unmarried girls offer Gangajal to Lord Shiva and observe the Shivaratri fast, they will be blessed with a good husband. Married women also observe the fast and do the Shivaratri Pooja for the well-being of their spouse.
Fasting on Sawan Shivratri is believed to bring in health and financial prosperity for Lord Shiva devotees. From an astrological perspective, special Poojas and prayers are performed on this day reduces the malefic effects of the Moon or any of the nine Planets.
Along with Gangajal ‘Abhishekam’, many devotees also perform the ‘Maha Rudrabhishek’ puja which helps nullify all negative ‘karma’ from a person’s life and helps him achieve ‘Moksha’. Taking a dip in the holy river, Ganges, on Sawan Shivratri, is considered very auspicious.
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There are many legends behind the origin of Sawan Shivratri:
The most common legend is the marriage of Shiva and Parvati. Goddess Parvati had performed severe penance on New Moon Days for Shiva’s welfare. This age old tradition has been carried on and married women fast on this day for the long life of their husbands.
According to another legend, the two greatest forces in the universe, Lord Shiva, and Shakti were united on this day.
Yet another legend describes it the day when ‘Samundra Manthan’ was performed and Lord Shiva consumed the deadly poison that emerged from the ocean, thus saving the universe and all living beings from being destroyed. King Ravana, who was an ardent devotee of Shiva, offered his diety Ganga Jal to assuage the effect of the poison on Lord Shiva. This practice of offering Ganga Jal to Shivalinga is especially seen in north India, when devotees (Kanvariyas) carry the holy water from Gangotri on ‘Kaavad’(a pole with two water pots tied on either side) and walk to their destination many miles away.
Also read: All About Sawan Month and Sawan Somvaar Vrat