Today I went to the office by foot because of enforcing odd and even strict rules on vehicles. While returning I returned by the way of Pashupatinath temple. I noticed the premises of Pashupatinath temple was not lively as before and god Devadi Dev Mahadev is also far away from his devotees due to the global epidemic Covid-19. The auspicious month of Shrawan and Lord Shiva seem like a synonym to me because of its popularity among Hindus. Devotees observe fasting specially on Mondays to honor and receive blessings form Lord Shiva. I have also witness and experienced this rituals by giving special status to this month in my home form three generations. What my late grandmother did (puja vidi and specific rituals) during this month was transferred to my mother and me respectively. To be honest I figure out better spiritual atmosphere in Kathmandu as compare to my village. It could be due to having famous temple of Lord Shiva Pashupatinath within valley. When I came to Kathmandu for study at one time I used to go Pashupatinath temple daily and participated in Aarati. Doing this was like a daily routine for me. Those memories are still fresh in my mind and soul. I had strong willpower to be in the premises of Pashunath temple and never ever disturbed by bad weather. The joy of indulging into the spiritual bliss while chanting mantras, singing Aarati, sensation of feeling vibration when getting sprinkled water by the priest, recurring holy sound of Aum and Har Har Mahdev were satisfying good vibes. I still remember within sanctum of temple vibration kept continuing specially while listening to Har Har Mahadev rhymes by devotees. With the passage of time, devotion to Lord Shiva has increased to me and found other ways to have the faith but, unable to present in the premises daily as before. Experiencing and involving into these activities still I am unable to find why do Hindus take the month of Shrawan so seriously to worship and pleased Lord Shiva? Curiosity and interest to find the reasons behind it kept haunting me. Perhaps, my devotion could be the outcome of this society and similar might be applicable to you without knowing the valid reason. Ultimately we are social animals and our beliefs & values are shaped by societal custom, practices, rituals and culture. So in this edition I am trying to answer myself curiosity .
According to various Hindu scriptures, Lord Shiva has entitled as Lord of the Lords because he has the ability to destroy and immortalize any creature with the poison of the trident and the nectar of the moon. Based on the few incidents happened during the Saty era Shrawan month is the dearest month among all months to Lord Shiva. Question might appears here why Shiva took this month so specially. The answered is related with the churning sea ceremony and immortal story.
Month of Shrawan (July – Aug) is considered as churning sea (Samundra Manthan) according to Hindu mythological scriptures. The zest of this incident is more relevant in the present context. This is a moving example of how anyone should not be distracted form the failure of the initial stage despite of constant hard work to find a success even if they are the deities. By the impact of sage Durvasa’s curse the king of heaven Indra and other divinities loosed their power while the demons/asur become powerful under the patronage of their guru Shukracharya’s sanjivani blessing received form Lord Shiva. As demons become more powerful, the throne of Indra, the king of heaven is threatened. However, Lord Vishnu shows the lure of divine nectar to demon and the gods and makes a treaty between the two sides to persuade them to churn the sea. The purpose of churning the sea was to extract nectar. The task would not have been possible without the union of gods and demons as immense power was required. In this historical celestial event all major god has played their role the Sumeru Mountain and Vasuki Naag (Vahana of Lord Shiva snake god) performed role of Madani (Churning stick) and rope respectively. Lord Vishnu himself played a role of tortoise to prevent Mount. Sumeru form sinking while churning. In this act, when the sea churning started, a terrible deadly Halahala and Kaalakutam poisons were generated at the initial stage. These poisons began to spread in such a way that the whole universe and all living creatures put into danger. The lord Shiva who observed this task become concern about the outbreak of this poisons and the protection of all creatures in universe. Finally, Devadi Dev Mahadev, the virtue of compassion, came forward for the protection of all the creatures, consumed all the poison emitted during this churning process and saved all the creatures from possible danger. The goddess Paravati who witnessed cannot bear herself to see husband swallowing poisons and stopped it in the throat of Lord Shiva. The interference of goddess Parvati prevent poison reaching to stomach. The jammed poison converted throat into blue color after that Shiva named as Neelkantha. Thereafter, the churning process continued to meet its objective i.e to find nectar. In this celestial event the role of Lord Shiva for the protection of universe and its creatures was beyond the limit.
In this way, after churning the ocean, all the gods and demons consume nectar, precious gems and other special items, while compassionate Lord Shiva saves the existence of all creatures by consuming the poison and get rid of all that pitiable situation. This is also a strong proof to be found in the parable of Devadeva. After consuming the poison, Lord Shiva’s body started burning. In other words, Shiva was not feeling well. Helping someone who is in pain is the fundamental religious faith of all humankind. In today’s context also we help for someone’s trouble. Similarly, when almighty lord himself was in difficult situation definitely, his devotes might have performed and engaged in various devotional activities to alleviate his problem. and this tradition may have continued in the course of time. Furthermore, water anointing, which is a tradition performed in the month of Shrawan, is one of the major activity that please Shiva. This act is directly related to the situation after consuming deadliest poison. As we all know offering water provides coolness. Now think about how much water anointing Lord Shiva needed in that situation. Devotees may have started the practice of anointing water as a form of devotion to Lord Shiva, remembering the plight of consuming deadly poison. As an empathetic god, it seems natural for the month of Shrawan (July-Aug) to be the dearest month based on sea churning incident because he saved universe form potential calamity where all creature continued for existence. By which devotees started offering immense faith as a means of different devotions & fondness activities like worshipping, observing fasting, chanting mantras, anointing water, milk, curd, oil etc as deep respect to Lord Shiva.
Another context is the immortal story that goes hand in hand with the love of Siva (man) and Parvati (nature) other half. We all know that Lord Shiva is a true lover during the death of Sati Devi he carried her dead body in his shoulder and started touring the world with asceticism emanating from her body. This is an ample evidence to prove Shiva Parvati love story. In this context according to the Hindu scriptures Lord Shiva used to wear mundamala (garland made form human skull) which were not other than his other half for the memory from ages. Until the reincarnation to Parvati the other half of Lord Shiva used to lived normal life like us form birth to death means she was not immortal. One day Parvati asked Shiva why he wears the mundamala)? This questioned had played major role to tell immortal story to Parvati. When she received answer form Lord Shiva she realized that her other half is immortal but she is not. Knowing the truth Parvati insists that she too should be immortal. To be immortal it is compulsory to listen immortal story, for this task Lord Shiva took Parvati to Amarnath. The immortal story is something that who hears it become immortal forever. So this story was only to be told to Parvati, that is why Lord Shiva took down all the ornaments (snake, Ganga, moon) from his body. Thus, only pure Shiva Parvati resides in a secret cave and commenced activities to tell and listen immortal story. While telling story although Parvati falls asleep in between Lord Shiva did not realized it. The response of got it, understand continued despite of Parvati asleep. The response was given by the freshly hatched parakeet. Since the wrong creature has heard the immortal story, Lord Shiva decided to destroy it. Shiva started to following the parakeet, the parakeet reaches the ashram of sage Vedvyas and entered into the womb of his wife. Shiva left it as it was curse to kill a pregnant woman. The bird then born after Twelve years in the name of Sukadev . Sukadev latter known to be the creator of vedas and narrator of Bhagawat puran where he is taken as special in Hinduism.
Thus, with the reason of these Two incidents (Samundra Manthan & Amar Katha) which occurred in the month of Shrawan, Lord Shiva take this month so specially. Simultaneously, the popular color used in this month is also associated with these two deities. Shiva means Samyam whose color is yellow and Parvati means nature whose color is green . Therefore green and yellow colors are widely used while worshipping, observing fasting and chanting Lord Shiva in the month of Shrawan.