Hinduism boasts of several vratas. One of the significant ones is the Pradosha vrata, which absolves all sins, Karmic or otherwise. A Journalist Reveals decided to explore this vrata, during Mahashivaratri 2020.
The triyodashi and chaturdashi, before Mahashivaratri, are very significant. The terrible poison, Aalakala visha appeared on Shani Pradosha from the milky ocean. Lord Shiva had consumed it immediately. Every day during Pradosha time (dusk), Lord Shiva performs the Ananda Tandava. At that time, everything, animate or inanimate including ghosts and all evil, get mesmerized; so that they do not trouble anybody.
During Pralaya or deluge, Lord Shiva performs the Rudra Tandava, resulting in the entire cosmos disappearing in water. On Mahashivaratri, worshipping the Nataraja form of Lord Shiva is significant.
Sage Patanjali took inspiration from Lord Shiva’s Ananda Tandava and organized dance into Mudras, Adavus and Padams. This resulted in the Bharatanatyam dance, which is the originator of all the other classical dance forms. These dances belong to the realm of divinity.
Besides Shivaratri, Lord Nataraja is also worshipped during Dussahra, by placing the dancer’s heavy anklets in front of the idol.
Mahashivaratri also signifies the day when Lord Shiva appeared in the symbolic form of Lingam, to teach a lesson to the other 2 parts of this Trinity – Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma, who were fighting to establish one’s supremacy over the other. On this day, Lord Shiva also got married to Goddess Parvati.
Shivites offer gangajal, panchamruta, rose water, sugarcane juice, tender coconut water as abhisheka to Lord Shiva, either during Mahashivaratri, Masika Shivaratri or even daily. Offering abhir, gulal, sandalwood powder, vibhuti, Bael patra and white flowers to the Lingam is very important, during this time. Never offer Kevda flowers to Lord Shiva because the Lord cursed it. Lord Shiva prefers his ascetic form with snakes winding on his body like ornaments. Besides Mount Kailasa, He likes to dwell in caves.
Several years ago, during a visit to the Elephanta Caves, I could not climb the mounds on the island with my daughters and their friends. An elderly couple was sitting near me. They said that their ancestors would visit the cave temple only between 10 AM and 4 PM, years back. The only transportation available, then, was boats. There were several snakes moving about the place, at that time. When we had visited the island, the Archeological Society of India had taken steps to clean the place and had converted it into a tourist spot. I guess, we can assume that now the snakes do come, but when the people are not thronging the place.