Soma Vara Vrata
The supreme of all vratas
The Somavara Vrata or Monday Vrata is observed in the worship of Lord Shiva by the Hindus at large.
The word ‘Somvar’ originates from the Sanskrit word ‘Soma’ meaning Moon, and the Var means day namely Monday.
Lord Shiva is also referred as ‘Someshvara’ as He wears the crescent shaped moon on His matted hair.
The Somavara vrata is performed on Mondays to please Lord Someshvara and also get one’s wishes fulfilled.
Even though this Vrata can be observed on any Monday, there is a mention of special Mondays in the Hindu scripture wherein observing Somavara vrata is considered to be more auspicious like the shrAvaNa somvAr and kArthikai sOmavAram.
According to skandha purANa, on the Mondays of the month of kArthikai (mid Nov to mid Dec) this vrata is more auspicious.
Hence in Tamil Nadu, the Mondays in the Tamil month of Karthigai (the months of November-December ‘Karthikai Somavaram Vratam’ is observed in large numbers.
Observing Soma Var Vrata on the first Monday after New Moon of any month, especially in the month of Phalgun (February/March) is also very auspicious. This month Phalgun is known for the Shivratri festival.
When new moon day or ‘Amavasi’ falls on a Monday, the day is very propitious for observing Somavara vrata and it is called as ‘Somavati Amavas’.
Way of observing:
The Somavara vrata starts from the sunrise on Monday. The observer of this vrata normally gets up at the dawn and takes holy bath and then the devotee meditates on the Supreme Lord praying the Auspicious and ever Graceful Shiva. and Goddess Parvati.
The one who observes this vrata adorns a white colored dress. Special puja is performed that starts by doing abhishek to the Shivling of Lord Shiva with ‘Pancha Kavyam’.
Panchagavya or panchakavyam is a sanctified mixture used in traditional Hindu rituals that is prepared by mixing five ingredients. The three direct constituents are cow dung, urine, and milk; the two derived products are curd and ghee. These are mixed in proper ratio and then allowed to ferment. The Sanskrit word panchagavya means “mixture of five cow products”. When used in Ayurvedic medicine, it is also called cowpathy.
Devotees also offer Bhasma (Vibhuthi) and Bilva Patra to Lord Shiva as these are considered to be the favourites of the lord.
Naivedya especially sweet pongal and payasam or special food offerings is also prepared and offered to appease Lord Shiva.
There is also a significance of offering white flowers NANDYAVITTAI on the Shivling.
The devotees enchant the ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ all through the day. The observer of the Somavara vrata can fast completely or may even take a single meal after midday. Partial fast can also be observed by taking sabudana khichadi or fruits.
Usually the devotees observing the Somavara vrata visit any Lord Shiva temple during morning and evening. If however, if this is not possible, prayers can also be offered at their home.
How to observe Vrat?
Norms to be followed during Soma Var Vrata:
One should strictly avoid consuming non-vegetarian food during the Vrata
Many devotees also avoid garlic and onions
Those who observe the fast are also advised to read scriptures related to Lord Siva or recite the Devaram or Thiruvasakam.
Visiting Siva temples during this period is considered highly rewarding.
Usually special poojas take place in all Shivji temple on Somavar and various kinds of abishegam are also being performed.
We can also offer milk, sandal, kumkum, panjamridham etc., as per our wish for abishegam(it is not a part of Somavar vrat, it purely depends on our own wish).
Many devotees consume only a single meal during the fasting period
One can consume the meal either at noon or after dusk
Many devotees adhere to a fruit and juice diet during this period
Kindly note that there are no hard and fast rules and regulations in fasting, God will accept our fast in whatever way we offer and God doesn’t judge us.
Fasting should be observed only by those who are physically and mentally fit.
Those who are on medication or suffering from some other ailments are strongly advised to stick to their normal diet.
Some people finish their vrat by the prasadam offered in the temple.
Many Shiva devotees regard the fasting period as a wonderful opportunity to detoxify the body and cleanse themselves of impurities.
Some devotees even confine themselves to consuming only water, coconut water, or in some cases, fruit juices.
The Soma Var ‘Vratam’ (fasting) period ends on the next day namely Tuesday at the time of the Sun rise.
The Vratam should be observed not only to abstain from food but also regarded as a means of purifying the mind by eschewing bad thoughts and contemplating on divine grace.
Vrata means “vow, resolve, devotion”, and refers to the practice of austerity, particularly in matters related to foods, habits and drinks by people in Hindu and Jaina culture, as part of a pious observance or prayers seeking health, wealth, fertility, long life or happiness.
Hence Vratam should not be misunderstood as just fasting on food, it is a process to purify the mind through prayer, worship, meditation etc.
Several Vedas and Upanishads mention that observing Vrat with sheer dedication holds highest relevance and reverence to offer pious devotion. Such a chaste vow holds the power of fulfilling every desire of the devotee.
The Vrat makes us to move near to the almoghty God. The devotees who observes a Vrat is called a Vrat-Dhari.
Broadly speaking, Vrat means a vow to accept some rules of restrictive discipline. In spiritual field, Vrat means to apply control over our sense organs, with a solemn vow to observe regulatory discipline.
This vow includes not only fasting, and also more importantly not involving in entertainments and sensual pleasures. Devotees should obtain from going for movie or watching television. Vrata should be observed by not getting angry, not hurting anyone, not gossiping, loving neighbours, animals, birds, and being compassionate, etc. ,
This ritual offers a great opportunity to discipline the mind and keep oneself in tune with the religious and spiritual plane.
One who observes this vratam would get to enjoy many pleasures in this world and finally would reach the kailAsham. The moon observed this vratam and got his “moonness”. He saluted the Lord gauri- shankara and requested that this vratam be called soma vAra vratam (One of the names of the moon is soma. One of the name of Lord shiva with goddess umA is also soma) and whoever follows this vratam should get their wishes materialised by the grace of the Lord and finally should get the liberation. God granted the boon.
The austerous sage vaShiShTa got the chaste arunthadhi as his wife.
One gets blessed by the shiva-shakti on observing this vratam sincerely.