India is an extraordinary country with the diversity of various customs and rituals, developed by different sects i.e. individuals and philosophical institutions, in different states and at different times. The whole month of Shravan is completely dedicated to the one who meditates in the Mount Kailas of the Himalayas, the Lord of dance, the supporter of all austere, Lord Shiva. Just about every Hindu around this country and elsewhere knows the very significance of this month Shravan.
Probably there is no grandmother in India who hasn’t recited mythological tales of Lord Shiva to her grandchildren; as there is always some tale behind every occasion or festival. How can there be no mythical tale behind this ‘sacred month’? Well, it is believed that in the process of churning of the ocean (Samudra Manthan) by the Gods and the demons to acquire the nectar (amrit) of immortality, a deadly poison emerged that the Gods dreaded would destroy all of creation. In an act of altruism and to save the Universe from the ultimate destruction Lord Shiva drank the poison and stored in his throat, which caused Shiva’s throat to turn blue. From then on Mahadev is known Neelkanth.
Shravan month is considered to be the most auspicious month all through the year. Each and every community of the country celebrates this sacred month in their own way, though slightly different from one another. Many devotees fast all through the month by just eating one meal a day, whereas some fast only on specific days, especially Mondays. There few who avoid meat because they’re told to, and then there are those who want to. Shiva temples are usually crowded around this time as all devotees seek their Lord’s blessings by making offerings and abhishekam (mixture of milk and water). It is during this month when the rain gods shower their blessings. A number of scholars believe that fasting (varts) helps the people to stay healthy as the waterborne diseases spread way too quickly.
Every other day during this tenth month of the Gujarati calendar is considered to be very propitious particularly the Shravan Mondays. Why?! The day is exclusively dedicated to worshipping Lord Shiva. In Gujarat, girls fast for sixteen Mondays (Solah Somwar) starting from the first Monday of the Shravan month in order to be blessed with a good husband, wellbeing, and blissful life; this is one of the myths connected to marriage. The Shravan month brings along quite a few great festivals i.e. Naga-Panchami, Raksha Bandhan and Janmashtami.
Even after all these centuries our ancient beliefs still continue to exist to the present day and inspire us improve ourselves. May this Shravan be blessed and prosperous for everyone.