Monday Fast: Katha, rituals, meaning & importance

Many Hindus observe fasts on certain days of the week. Each day of the week has an association with a particular planet and deity. By fasting on a particular day, one can please the planet and the deity linked to it. It can also bring certain benefits. Sometimes, fasting is recommended as a remedy for planetary afflictions, too. People also observe fasts during religious festivals and holy days like Vaikunta Ekadasi, Skanda Shasti, Hanuman Jayanthi, etc.



Fasting makes one more spiritual as it involves abstaining from physical wants. The Scriptures say that fasting purifies the body and mind and enables you to focus on the divine. ‘Vrat’, the Hindi word for fast, means ‘vow’ or ‘resolve’. Fasting enables one to achieve spiritual union with one’s higher self. Scientifically, fasting is good for health. It can control weight, reduce blood sugar, prevent cancer, and improve heart and brain health. Religious fasting has a significant effect on oxidative stress, dyslipidemia, etc.

 

Monday fasting is for pleasing Shiva. Monday is dedicated to the planet Moon. It is also called Somvar vrat, as Monday is ‘Somvar’ in Hindi. Observing Somvar vrat for 16 consecutive Sundays can supposedly bring miraculous changes in a person’s life. It is called Solah (16) Somvar Vrat.

 

The Story behind Monday Fast

 

There is a story in the Shiva Purana that describes the benefits of observing Solah Somvar Vrat. Shiva and his consort, Goddess Parvati, once traveled to Amaravati, a renowned city. They had a stop-over at a beautiful Shiva temple during their journey. To pass the time, they decided to play a game of dice. Meanwhile, the temple priest arrived there.

 

While they were playing, Parvati turned to the priest and asked him to predict the winner of the game. Shiva will win the game, the priest blurted out, as he was not expecting such a tricky question. However, Parvati won. She went on to curse the priest, due to which he became a leper. The priest had to endure many hardships on account of the stigma of being a leper.

 

Some years after this incident, some fairies happened to visit the temple. Seeing the plight of the priest, they felt sorry for him. On hearing his sad story, a fairy suggested that he observe a fast on Monday for 16 weeks without any break. He was to make the prasad using flour combined with ghee and jaggery on the 17th fasting day. He was also told to give the prasad to his family and devotees and have some of it himself. The fairy assured him that his leprosy would be cured if he did this. The priest followed the advice of the fairy, and his leprosy vanished.

 

When Shiva and Parvati visited the temple again, the latter was shocked to find that the priest was in good health. When she enquired, the priest told her what had happened. On realizing the immense power of the Solah Somvar Vrat, Parvati was delighted. She, too, decided to observe Monday fasting for sixteen consecutive weeks. On the 17th Monday, her beloved son Kartikeya, who was estranged from her, appeared there, exclaiming, “My dear mother, what power pulled me here?” Parvati told him the entire story.

 

Somvar Vrat Pooja Vidhi

 

On Somavathi Amavasya, all those who observe fast wear white clothes. On Monday, one must awake before dawn, focus on Shiva, and take a regular bath. Then one must offer prayers to Shiva and Parvati. A special Pooja is performed now.

 

· The fast begins at dawn and gets over at dusk.

 

· Sprinkle some sacred Ganga Jal, curds, and milk on the Shiva linga in the morning. Decorate it with some white flowers and fresh fruit.

 

· Chant the Mantra “Om Namah Shivaya” continuously all through the day until dusk.

 

· Take fruits or Sabudana khichdi for lunch.

 

· End the fast with udyapan and Shiva Pooja on the following Shivaratri day.

 

Somvar Vrat’s Importance

 

Worshipping Shiva on Amavasya Vrat on Monday can bestow all worldly joys. Singles observe the fast for a good life partner, while married people observe it for marital joy and domestic harmony. The Monday fast can also bestow relief for many health problems and enable financial security.

 

Most devotees drink only water during the day, but some consume a single meal in the afternoon after the Pooja. Fruits, milk, curd, buttermilk, and sabudana-based foods can be eaten.

 

It is essential to read the Solah Somvar Katha (story) during the Pooja and then recite one of the Mantras given below during the day:

 

· Panchakshari Mantra:

 

It is a very powerful Shiva Mantra. Chanting it 108 times daily bestows divine energy and boosts concentration.

 

· Shiva Gayatri Mantra:

 

This Mantra can remove worry and fear.

 

· Rudra Mantra:

 

This Mantra bestows Shiva’s blessing and helps one to achieve one’s goals.

 

· Mahamrityunjaya Mantra:

 

Reciting this Mantra 108 times can bring good health, vitality, and wealth. It gives protection from diseases.

 

Monday Fasting Benefits

 

The Shiva Purana says that observing this Monday fast is helpful to gain longevity, mental peace, and success in one’s business, work, and relationships.

 

People whose marriages are getting delayed can benefit from the fast. Couples who are facing problems in their marriage can find peace and harmony. Childless couples may be blessed with progeny if they offer Datura flowers and fruits to the Shiva linga and chant Mantras during the fast.

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