Hindu panachanga dedicates Shanivar (Saturday) to worship the powerful God Shanidev (Saturn), who is one of the Navagraha (nine planets). Observing Vrat, fast on Saturday is considered highly beneficial and the most significant among all the weekly Vrats. As per mythological teachings, Hindu devotees not only worships Lord Shanidev but also worship Lord Hanuman and Lord Narasingha (4th incarnation of Lord Vishnu) on this auspicious day. Experts and astrologers advocate that Saturday fast is extremely useful for those who have a weak Saturn in their horoscope (Kundali). Observing fast on this day to please Saturn (Shanidev) is an easiest way to receive His blessings as well as the remedy for all ill effects of a weak Shani in the Kundali.
Shanidev remains perhaps the most feared divine entity in Hinduism. Many devotees consider that Shanidev is the god of anger but only a few know that he's the God of justice. Living a sinless life without creating a hurdle for any living and non-living being is the simplest way to receive divine blessings from the mightiest God Shanidev. And, if, Shanidev becomes happy then the person enjoys a blissful life with health, wealth, and respect.
Shanivar Vrat Vidhi / Saturday fast procedure: Observing Saturday fast and worshipping Lord Saturn keeps away all the hurdles and misfortunes. As per the tradition, devotees worship Saturn idols made of iron. They offer black flowers, black sesame seeds (til), and black clothes to the deity to begin the puja. Anyone can commence this auspicious ritual on the first Saturday of the bright lunar month (Shukla Paksh) of any lunar month and should continue for 11 or 51 consecutive Saturdays. Most of the devotees follows this procedures to observe a Saturday Vrat:
• Wake-up before sunrise and finish up your holy bath.
• Arrange all essentials for the puja such as mustard oil, sesame seeds (til), black flowers, flower garlands, fruits, incense sticks, an oil lamp (Diya) and black cloth then visit a temple of Shanidev.
• If you wish to conduct a Shanigraha Puja at your home then take advice from a priest or expert.
• Offering water to a Peepal tree is believed to be most auspicious on this day.
• At the beginning of the puja offer shower with panchamrit and mustard oil Shanidev.
• Offer black clothes, garlands, flowers, black sesame, incense, oil lamp in front of the idol.
• Sit comfortably inside the temple premises then chant mantras, ten divine names of Lord Shanidev followed by Shanivar Vrat katha with a pure heart.
• Offer aarti and prayer to the lord at the end of this puja.
• After this, arrange some eatables for the Brahmins as per your ability and donate food, money, and items made of iron to poor people.
Mantra for Shanivar Vrat:
• Chant 10 names of Lord Shanidev - Konastha, Krishna, Pippala, Sauri, Yama, Pingalo, Rodrutko, Babhru, Manda, Shanasture.
• Beej Mantra: Om Aim Hreem Shanecharaya Namah
• Ekashari mantra: Om Sham Shaneicharaya Namah
• Maha Mantra:
“Om Nilanjana Sama Bhasam, Ravi Putram Yamagrajam
Cahaya Martanda Samhubhutam, Tama namami Shanescharam”.
Significance of Saturday Fasting:
• According to experts of Astrology, Shanivar Vrat has great potential in reducing or removing the negative effects of the planet Saturn.
• Shani remains grateful to Hanuman for his great help and hence praying to Lord Hanuman on this day helps to receive divine blessings of Lord Shanidev.
• To overcome personal misery, bring some relief to someone through seva or give donations on this auspicious day. It will bring back smile and good fortune in your life, because Saturn is the planet of service and represents servants and people who do good work.
• Sharing food to the needy and performing yajna (ritual done in front of sacred fire) on this day reduces the adverse effects of Sade Sati, the seven-and-a-half-year period of Saturn which is also known as a difficult time.
• Observing Shanivar fast with full faith and devotion can also reduce the effects of an ill placed Saturn in your horoscope.
Shanivar Vrat Katha/Saturday Fast story: It is a beautiful story from the Ramayana. As we all know, Raavan the mighty King of Lanka had won Tri-Loka and got a boon from Lord Bramha and Lord Shiva to be almost immortal. So Raavan had control over all the nine planets also. He put these nine planets under the stair-case of his central hall where his throne was situated. He used to feel happy while climbing up his throne through these stairs. He had defeated all the demigods, Nagas, Gandharvas, and Lokpal, and kept them under his control. They could not do anything, but Shanidev told them that he might help them to get freedom. Raavan was believed to be a great astrologer. Raavan placed all the planets in the 11th House after the birth of his eldest son Meghnath so that he could also be invincible and immortal like him. But Shanidev stretched his leg a little bit from Raavan's clutches towards his 12th House to jeopardize his plan. When Raavan came to knew about this that it will cause Meghnath's death, he imprisoned Shani in a dark room so that nobody could see Saturn’s face again.
After some time, when Hanumanji reached Lanka in search of Goddess Sita, He heard Shani's cries from a faraway place. When Hanumanji looked here and there, he found Shani imprisoned in a dark room. Lord Hanuman freed Him upon His request, but Hanumanji became the victim of Shani's gaze towards Him. In gratitude, Lord Shanidev promised Lord Hanuman that those who would pray to him on Saturday would be rescued from the painful effects of Shani. Thus, Hindu devotees worship Lord Hanuman along with Lord Shanidev to receive His graceful blessings and for a hurdle free life.
Summary: The planet Saturn is also called Jeevana Karaka, as he controls vital aspects of existence like livelihood and longevity. Shanidev, the God of justice, gives people results according to their deeds. Even those who remain successful all through their lives may suffer for their wrongdoings. Offering your sincere prayers to Lord Shanidev by observing Saturday fast is believed to please the deity and helps to receive His blessings in abundance. As per Vedic Astrology, worship to Lord Shanidev can remove fears, afflictions and helps a devotee to overcome various difficulties of life.