Why is Shravan Maas the holiest month?


By Ravina Ramlugun

One of the holiest months in the Hindu calendar is Shravan Maas (Jul/Aug) which is a period characterised by fasting and worship. It is usually said to be the month dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva and is, thus, of great importance to the Hindu community, especially Saivites. The relationship between Shiva and the Shravan Maas is linked to the episode of Samudra Manthana (narrated in the Puranas) which is translated as the churning of the ocean and is said to have taken place during Shravan Maas itself.

The story of Samudra Manthana

Once Indra was roaming around on Airavata when he stumbled across Durvasa Muni. The latter offered Indra a blessed garland as a sign of affection. Delighted to see the beautiful garland, Indra thankfully took it and decided to adorn his Airavata with the same. But Airavata, not being pleased by this act, threw the garland on the ground. Angered by what had transpired, Durvasa Muni cursed Indra and all the other Devas as well that they would lose all their powers…

Several days passed by. The Devas could witness how they were becoming less and less powerful while the Asuras took pleasure in defeating them. Distressed by this state of affairs, the Devas approached Vishnu who was resting in his transcendental slumber. After proper salutations, the whole scenario was narrated to Vishnu and the Devas requested his help. From this conversation, the Devas came to know that the solution to their problem was at the bottom of the Ksheer Sagar. It was only by churning the ocean and drinking the amrita or nectar lying underneath that the might of the Devas would be restored.

Thereafter the work began. Vishnu took the form of a tortoise and helped the Devas while they used Vasuki as a rope and churned. As the churning of the ocean was taking place, many precious ratnas (gems), Kamadhenu (the wish-fulfilling cow), Lakshmi (the consort of Vishnu), Dhanvantari (the divine physician) and Parijat (the ever-blossoming tree) came out. However, there was no sign of amrita yet. So, the Devas continued on and on…

Before any amrita would come out, there emerged a deadly substance called halahal. A chill went down the spines of the Devas. This poison was enough to put an end to the whole universe! It had to be stopped at all cost. But the Devas did not have the courage to intervene – this would be akin to inviting death to oneself. There was only One Being who could step in and ward off the looming calamity. Thinking about this, the Devas began chanting the name of Mahadeva.

Sensing the urgency in their voice, Mahadeva did appear and seeing the situation before his eyes, he did not think twice before swallowing the poison to prevent it from spreading. Mahadeva held the poison in his neck which turned blue. Hence, from this day onwards, Mahadeva got the name Neelkanth (the one with a blue throat). As Ganga Jaal was offered to Mahadeva by the Devas to lessen the effect of the poison, devotees also do the same and thank him for his benevolence.

General practices during Shravan Maas

  • Devotees usually take a vow of abstention which is observed for the whole month. Vows differ from individual to individual – fasting, not having intercourse, abstinence from drinking and gambling, and no verbal and physical harm to any living being among many others.
  • A full or partial fast is observed every Monday of this month which is known as Shravan Maas Somvar Vrat.
  • Gauri Puja is performed on every Tuesday – Maa Parvati and Lord Shiva are worshipped by couples for a happy married life.
  • During this month, devotees offer ablution to Shiva Linga. The Shiva Linga is bathed with holy water, milk and honey, and is decorated with bel leaves and flowers.
  • The nine ways to attain the Lord (mentioned in the Shiva Purana) are followed by devotees namely: hearing kathas on Shiva and his parivaar, singing devotional songs in his praise, remembering his glory and deeds, serving others, living in humility, worshiping with proper customs, offering obeisance, friendliness to all and surrendering to Shiva.

Om Namaha Shivaya

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 21 July 2023

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