Nandi at Shivan temple

June 17, 2012 Vel HinduInfo StoryShivaStatue

Nandi Devar is also worshipped with equal importance during Pradosha and is given a special abhisheka with milk, sandal paste, water, and other fragrant fluids. He is offered a very special dish made out of red rice (Puttarisi), sugar and ghee, which is later fed to the temple cow. Some people even take the liberty of whispering their wishes into Nandi’s ears to pass them onto Shiva, for during Pradhosha, Nandi is believed to be the closest to the Lord. It is also customary to have a darshan of the Shiva Linga through and in between the horns of Nandi, just the way Shiva had danced at the very first Pradosha.
The observance of Pradosha Pooja at the temple ends with a strange ritual known as the Soma Sutra Pradakshinam. At the end of the abhishekas and poojas to the deities, the Pradosha Nayakar is carried out in a procession from the sanctum to the Dwajastambham (Flag Staff). The Pradosha Nayakar is a small statue of Parvathi and Shiva, shown to be standing on Nandi. Since the deity is brought out only during the Pradosha Kaala, he is named so. Starting from the Dwajastambham, the Pradosha Nayakar is carried in a procession around the temple three times, followed dutifully by all the devotees in what is called the Soma Sutra Pradakshinam. But the order of the Pradakshinam is the weirdest ever.

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The Pradakshinam starts at the Dwajastambham, right behind Nandikeshwarar. After having a darshan of the Linga through Nandi’s horns, the procession goes around the temple anti-clockwise until it reaches the Gomukhi (the spout from which the abhisheka waters come out). There the procession turns around and comes back to the Dwajastambham and continues its clockwise rotation until it reaches the Chandikeswara shrine. Once again the direction of travel is reversed and the first circumambulation of the procession ends at the Dwajastambham. This bizarre circumambulation is repeated two more times with the Pradosha Nayakar in the lead, after which he returns to the sanctum. This is called the Soma Sutra Pradakshinam because while performing it, the Lord and the devotees describe the shape of a crescent moon (Soma-moon). But why is this odd Pradakshinam even performed and that too only on Pradoshas?
Let’s go back to the beginning of this article and recall the very funny hither-thither rushing of the Devas around the Kailasha Mountain. Did they not run back and forth between the seething Nandi and the reeking Hala-Hala until Shiva decided to intervene and solve their problem? That is what the Pradakshinam commemorates. The devotees are, in fact, performing a re-enactment of this ancient incident when they go around the temple in the Soma Sutra Pradakshinam. The Nandi Mandapam is taken to be Nandi himself, the Gomukhi is considered to be the source of the Hala-Hala and the devotees symbolically circumambulate in this manner, thus calling upon Maheshwara to solve their miseries too just like he had ridden the Devas of the Hala-Hala.
As has been emphasized throughout this article, the Pradosha Vratha is a highly potent one, capable of gifting a person with happiness, wealth, health and good times. The Vratha destroys enemies and obstacles in one’s path and bestows superior spiritual prowess on the observer. By observing it in a timely and orderly manner, with complete bhakthi, man gets freed from the cycle of birth and death and attains Shiva Loka Praapti after his mortal life. And that, I am sure, is the ultimate goal of every practicing Shaiva.

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