India is a holy country and birthplace of innumerable gods and goddesses. Different festivals of different cultures find their best place in the heart of Indians and this is what makes it Incredible India. For ages people of this country, particularly the Hindus celebrate various rituals and observe fast to worship different God for their spiritual, physical, and economical upliftment. Somvar (Monday) Vrat is one of such popular rituals and considered very auspicious for the worship of Lord Shiva.
According to teachings of Hindu mythology, every Monday of a lunar calendar is an auspicious day which is dedicated to the Supreme Lord Shiva. Somvar Vrat, Monday fast is one of the most popular Vrat in Hinduism. Devotees worship Lord Shiva on Mondays and observe a complete or partial fast to get His blessings for a peaceful living. A number of legends advocate that merciful Shiva is the supreme Lord and observing 16 consecutive Mondays fast which is popularly known as solah somvar vrat brings miraculous positive changes to the life of a devotee.
Solah Somvar Vrat: Solah Somvar Vrat (16 Monday fast) is one of the most popular Hindu rituals dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Vrat (fast) is not restricted and can be observed by anyone irrespective of their age and gender. In India, it is popularly observed by those facing difficulties in getting married and to find a suitable life partner.
Procedure to follow: One can ideally begin the fast on the first Monday of the bright half of Shravan, Chaitra, Vaishakha, Jyeshtha, Kartika, or Margsheersha months of the lunar calendar and continue for the next 16 Mondays. He/she must take a vow of observing fast for 16 consecutive Mondays with devotion and complete faith towards the almighty and not give it up carelessly in between.
Early morning routine: The vrat begins with waking up early in the morning and taking a holy bath, one should add black Til-Sesame seeds in this water. If possible, sprinkle Ganga Jal in your house to purify the atmosphere.
Performing the puja:
• To perform the puja at home, clean and decorate the puja room with flowers and light a lamp with cow ghee and incense stick.
• Set an idol of Lord Shiva or a Shivalinga in a peaceful corner then pray to Lord Ganesh first.
• Begin the puja with an Abhishek to the Shivalinga. Offer water mixed with Ganga Jal, followed by Panchamrit made by mixing of milk, honey, sugar, ghee, and curd and then pour water again.
• Apply Sandal paste onto the Shivling and offer white flowers, bilva leaves, Dhatura flower, fruit, and rice.
• After the resolution, one must read Monday vrat Katha with pure heart and devotion.
• To conclude the puja in the evening, perform Aarti using a ghee lamp and offer flowers and water to the Shivalinga and to the Moon God.
• Visit a temple of Lord Shiva during the day or in the evening for darshan and prayer.
Vrat food: Most of the devotees choose to drink only water throughout the day, while some can choose to eat a one-time meal in the afternoon upon completion of the puja. They can eat fruits, milk, curd or buttermilk or a dish made of sabo dana.
Mantras to chant during the day: It a compulsion to read the Solah Somvar Katha (Story) every Monday during puja followed by any of the following mantras:
1. Panchakshri Mantra
Om Namah Shivaya
One of the most powerful mantras to praise Lord Shiva. Chanting Om Namah Shivaya 108 times every day helps in developing concentration and provides divine energy.
2. Shiva Gayatri Mantra
Om Tat Purushaya Vidmahe, Mahadevaya Dhimahi,Tanno Rudra Prachodayat.
Regular chanting of this mantra eliminates all kinds of fear and keeps anxiety at bay.
3. Rudra Mantra
Om Namo Bhagavate Rudraya.
This powerful mantra is recited to get the blessing of the merciful Lord and considered effective for the fulfilment of one’s desires.
4. Mahamrityunjaya Mantra
Om Trayambakam Yajamahe, Sugandhim pustivardham,
Urwarukmivbandhanaan Mrityormuksheey mamritaat.
Hindu scriptures describe that reciting this powerful mantra for 108 times, keeps the devotee free of all diseases and provides health, wealth, and vitality.
5. Mantra / Prayer for Aarti
Karpur Gauram Karunavataram, Sansara Saram Bhujagendra Haram
Sada Vasantam Hridayaaravinde, Bhavam Bhavani Sahitam Namami.
Benefits / Significance: According to Shiva Purana, observing this Vrat helps to bring success in career, business, and relationship and also brings peace of mind, good health, longevity. Observing fast during Solah Somvar with devotion and faith will help a person to get his/her life partner. Couples facing a hard time in their marital relationship would experience peace and harmony. Offering Dhatura flower and fruit to Shivling and chanting of divine mantras on each day of Vrat would bless one with progeny.
Somvar Vrat Katha (story): A legend from Shiva Purana narrates the benefits of observing Solah Somvar Vrat. Once upon a time Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati decided to visit the famous city of Amravati. On their way, they saw an attractive Shiva temple and decided to spend some time there. One day, Parvati notices Lord Shiva in a playful mood, and they started playing a dice game. Meanwhile, the priest of the temple had come there. Parvati turned towards him and with the excitement of the game asked him- please foretell who will win this game? The priest was not prepared for such a question abruptly said, Lord Shiva will win the game, but Goddess Parvati won the game. She was angry with the priest due to his unreasonable answer and cursed the priest that he will become a leper. In due course, the priest became a leper and spent a painful life. After some years of that incident, some fairies visited that temple and come to know the whole story from the priest. After hearing his painful story, one of the fairies suggested the priest to observe Monday fast for sixteen weeks without break. On the seventeenth Monday, prepare the prasad with flour mixed with ghee and jaggery and distribute this prasad among the devotees, members of your family, and take some yourself. You will be free from this leprosy with the power of this fast. The fairies disappeared and the priest followed the instructions. Soon, he gained normal health. Goddess Parvati was surprised to see the priest in normal health condition when they visited that temple again. She enquired and the priest narrated the whole story. Parvati was happy knowing the secret power behind Solah Somvar Vrat and She also decided to observe Monday fasts for sixteen weeks. Surprisingly on the seventeenth Monday, her beloved son Kartikeya, who was displeased with her, appeared and said, O my dear mother which power attracted me to come here, then She narrated him the whole story.
According to Bhavishya Purana, all other fasts of a year cannot even touch the glory of the one-sixteenth division of this Solah Somvaar Vrata. People who worship Lord Shiva on Monday always succeed in their endeavours. This fast should be observed for attaining spiritual and physical health, luck, and reputation. Childless people can get children and the unmarried can get a partner of choice. The positive vibes of this Vrat will surely eradicate all sorts of fear and sorrow from one’s life. It is believed that those who observe a vrat sincerely and with utmost faith get rid of all sorts of troubles and live a blissful life.