The Hindu month of Shravan begins on July 06, and is celebrated across the country with puja and offerings made in the name of Lord Shiva – the god of destruction.
Believers observe fast on every Monday during this month and decorate Shiva temples with flowers.
According to Hindu mythology, when the gods and demons were churning the ocean (samudra manthan), poison came out in the month of Shravan. As with all gifts from the ocean, this too had to be accepted, though none wanted to. Lord Shiva consumed the poison – even though he was not a part of the churning – to help out the gods and held it in his throat, which turned it blue. To douse the poison’s effect, the grateful gods offered water, and devotees today too offer water to the Shivlinga with the same belief.
According to another school of belief, Monday fasts in this month ensure good prospective husbands for unmarried girls and good health for husbands of married women. They believe Parvati observed fast for the entire month of Shravan before Lord Shiva was impressed and married her.
Shravan is also the month when pilgrims go on “kanwar” journeys. The destination for kanwar journeys are Shiva temples and are ideally done on foot. The most popular destinations are Kashi Vishwanath (Uttar Pradesh) and Deoghar (Jharkhand). Shiva devotees carry holy water from the river Ganga, which hangs on their shoulders with the help of wooden lathis called “kanwar”.
The month ends with Raksha Bandhan, the festival that celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters.
How to observe the fast of Shravan Somvaar (Shravan Monday)
Devotees fast for the entire day and worship Lord Shiva, offering water (jalabhishek), sandal paste or powder, dhatura (flowers and fruits of a poisonous flowering plant), belpatra (leaves of golden apple). Some devotees also gather in nearby temples and sing bhajans in honour of Lord Shiva and Parvati.
This is one of main festivals of Mithilanchal (Bihar) that celebrates the marital bond. Women observe fast for 15 days starting from Naag Panchami and abstain from salt during the period. They worship Goddess Gauri offering belpatra, flowers and prasad. The devotees pray for getting the same husband for seven lives. Women also dress up for the occasion and wear new clothes and new bangles.
Married women celebrate this festival on the Tritiya of Shukla Paksha. They dress up and worship idols of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati seeking marital bliss.
The festival that marks the end of Shravan celebrates the bond between sisters and brothers. Siblings and cousins dress up for the occasion. Sisters tie a silk thread around their brothers’ wrists and pray for their well being. In return, the brothers bring them gifts and promise to protect them and always be there for their sisters.