Pradosh Vrat is one of the most auspicious events for Hindi Worshippers of Lord Shiva and it is celebrated every year during the 13th day of the lunar month (Trayodashi). Pradosh Vrat 2020 will take place tomorrow, on January 22, 2020. This Vrat is observed by numerous Hindus, especially in south India. Shiva temples all over the country conduct holy Pujas during the evening and worshippers also uphold a fast for the day. One of the most iconic aspects of this auspicious event is the Pradosh Vrat Katha, a legendary and holy story that is recited by worshipers and priests. What is the significance of this Katha? And why do people worship Lord Shiva during this auspicious day?
The story told during the Pradosh Vrat begins with a neverending battle between the Gods (devas) and the Demons (asuras). The Devas were vastly outnumbered by the asuras and were slowing losing the war. The Devas desperately needed a way to fight back against the massive armies of the asuras and they eventually decided to seek counsel from the trinity (Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma).
The trinity advised the gods to churn the ocean to obtain Amrita, an elixir that could grand them immortality. However, churning the ocean was a monumental task that the devas could not accomplish on their own. So, the devas told the asuras about the elixir and asked for their help. The devas and asuras soon joined forces to churn the ocean. They first broke apart the entirety Mantra mountain and threw it into the ocean.
Then Lord Vishnu took the avatar of the giant turtle Kurma and supported the broken mountain on his back. Next, the great snake Vasuki acted as the churning rope and coiled around the entire mountain. The Devas then held on to the tail of the snake while the asuras grabbed onto Vasuki's head. The two forces then pulled on the snake from opposite directions, churning the world's ocean in the process.
However, they did not get the Amrita without paying a heavy price. Before the ocean churned out the elixir, it released a deadly poison called Halahala, that was capable of destroying all life on the earth. Neither the devas nor the asuras could handle the fumes of the poison and they all fled the scene.
That was when Lord Shiva arrived and inhaled all of the poison into his throat. The poison quickly started to descend down Lord Shiva's gullet. Fearing for her husband's life, Goddess Parvati grabbed ahold of Lord Shiva's neck, preventing the poison from spreading any further. The point on Shiva's neck where the poison was stopped by Lady Parvati was forever marked by a blue spot, due to which Lord Shiva is often referred to as the Neelakanda (Blue necked God).
In reverence of Lord Shiva's divinity, the devas started to sing and celebrate, praising his name and thanking him for saving their lives. Shiva was enamoured by the devas celebrations and he started to dance ecstatically between the horns of his bull Nandikeshwara. Lord Shiva danced during the period of Pradosha (twilight time) of Trayodasi (thirteenth day of the lunar month), which is why this time period became an auspicious event for Shiva worshippers.