We have entered the holy month of Shravan, the fifth month in the Purnimanta Hindu calendar. An interesting bit of trivia to start with, if you’ve ever wondered how the months got their names, then it's based on Nakshatra, or the constellation in which the moon is placed at the time of the Poornima, or full moon. The full moon in this month will occur in the Nakshatra of Shravan, ruled by Lord Vishnu, and hence the name Shravan.
It was in the month of Shravan that the devas and assuras came together for the great churning of the ocean, using the mighty mount Meru. When the incredibly toxic and dangerous Halahal poison appeared during the churning, Lord Shiva came to the rescue, drinking it and it stayed lodged in his throat, giving him the moniker ‘Neelkanth’, or the one with the blue throat. Such was the impact of this poison, that the devas offered the water of the holy Ganga to Lord Shiva to alleviate the effects. This is how the tradition of offering water and milk to the Shiva Linga during the month of Shravan originated.
Whilst some people fast through the month, most people observe a fast on the Shravan Somvaars, or the Mondays, which have a special significance for Lord Shiva. The Tuesdays are also significant, as they are dedicated to Mata Parvati. It is also believed that she performed intense penance during the month of Shravan to appease Lord Shiva and become his consort. If you have been meaning to acquire a Rudraksha Mala, then this is a great month to start chanting with one, or wear one, although one must respect this most naturally occurring sacred bead, which is very dear to Lord Shiva.
However, it's not all austerities, there are also several festivals which are celebrated during this period - Naga Panchami dedicated to the worship of snakes, dear to Lord Shiva, and has special significance in Maharashtra. The ever popular festival of Raksha Bandhan, which venerates the sacred bond between brother and sister is also celebrated during this month. So whether you’re looking forward to deepening your spirituality through meditation or participating in the beautiful rituals and festivals that this holy month of Shravan brings, there is something to look forward to for everyone! Om Namah Shivay!