Pradosham-Vrat(am): According to the Shiva Puranas, observing a fast (or) vrat(am) on Pradosham is regarded as highly auspicious and beneficial. One would be blessed with wealth, children, happiness and honor.

Pradosham Vrat(am) or Fasting is good on Krishna Paksha Pradosham. “Paksha” is the Sanksrit word meaning Fortnight. In Hindu Lunar calendar, we have 2 fortnights. Krishna Paksha is the fortnight between Full Moon and New Moon (Amavasay). Shukla Paksha is the fortnight between New Moon and Full Moon.

Also, praying to Lord Shiva during the course of the fast is said to liberate the devotee from all his previous and present sins and evil deeds committed. Devotees consume only water during their fast and break their fast by eating Prasad after the evening prayers. Furthermore, they eat cooked food only from the next morning. Other Methods for fasting include, eating fruits while observing the Vrat and resume with eating cooked food on the same day after the evening prayers.

Sashti Vratam or Upvaas is an important fast dedicated to Lord Muruga or Kartikeya. The Sashti fasting begins with sunrise. The fast is broken on the next day morning after praying to Lord Surya (Sun God). Most people observing the fast make it a point to visit Murugan Temple on this day.

Observe complete fast the whole day and if that’s not possible due to health (or) other reasons, take some sort of vegetarian food on this day – this is usually a single meal in the afternoon or night. If possible, one could also opt for a fruit diet throughout the day.

Other options include eating a single rice meal at noon given from the temple. The cooked rice is consumed without any major side dishes. All non-vegetarian food is avoided on this day. Devotees listen to stories related to Skanda (or) read Skanda Purana and recite Skanda Sashti Kavasam.

Skanda Sashti Vratam: Lord Muruga is also known as Subramanian or Skanda or Kanda. Hence Shasti falling on the waxing moon period in the Hindu lunar month of Aippasi or Aswin (October-November) is known as “Skanda” Sashti. The festival of Skanda Sashti Vratam lasts for six days, starting with the day following the new moon in the month of Aswin, and is extremely important for devotees of Lord Muruga. Some devotees of Lord Muruga observe partial or full fast on each Sashti day and throughout the Skanda Sashti period.

The Sashti falling on the waxing moon period in the Hindu lunar month of Aippasi or Aswin (October-November) is the day on which Lord Muruga is believed to have killed a super-demon called Soorapadman. When the devas couldn’t tolerate the evil doings of this demon, they approached the younger son of Lord Shiva and Parvati for his assistance. He fought Soorapadman for six days, at the end of which the Lord vanquished the asura. He threw his weapon Vel at him and Soorapadman was split into two halves. One half became a peacock, which he took as his vaahana. The other became a cock and was transformed into his flag.

The devas, who were tormented by Soorapadman, rejoiced—they praised the Lord and prayed to him for six days. This is commemorated in the six-day festival of Skanda Sashti as a symbol of perpetual destruction of evil by God. Devotees usually recite the Skanda Sashti Kavacham during this period. Whoever fasts for these six days of Skanda Sashti and prays to Lord Muruga steadfastly, it is said that they would get the blessings of Lord Muruga. Those who are unable to fast for a whole day for six-day duration can eat just one meal during this period. Normally devotees fast during the 6-day period. Devotees who follow the Vratam will take food once a day, either in the morning, evening or night. They sometimes follow liquid diet. For the 6-day period they have to recite”Skanda Sashti Kavacham”, once in the morning and evening.

Devotees need to visit Lord Muruga temple at least once a day for 6 days. The fasting ends on the sixth day and on that day devotees visit Lord Muruga temple.

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