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The Solah Somvar Vrat or sixteen Monday Fasts are dedicated to Lord Shiva, the supreme Lord for Hindus and one known for his benevolence. On Mondays, various temples and shrines dedicated to Mahadev see crowds of people offering their prayers to Bholenath. People believe that observing a vrat or fast every Monday can remove blockages from marital life, aid towards attaining the desired life partner and help a person lead a happy married life.
A fast on Monday can be observed in three different ways.
Besides these, most devotees also observe Vrat during the four or five Mondays of the month of Shravan, and it is believed that worshipping Lord Shiva during this month can be very promising. The Shravan month is considered to be deeply dear to Shankar. The significance of the Solah Somvar Vrat comes from the story of how Goddess Parvati had observed fasts every Monday over 16 weeks to be able to marry Lord Mahadev.
Although there are various stories related to the Solah Somvar Vrat, there are two very famous stories. The first story is when Goddess Parvati observed a fast every Monday for sixteen weeks to marry Lord Shiva. Her utmost sincerity and love towards Lord Shankar pleased him, and he decided to marry her. Another story is when Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati had visited the famous city of Amravati and Goddess Parvati had cursed a Brahmin. In the city, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati had decided to spend a few leisurely hours in a Shiva temple and had resorted to a game of dice. When Goddess Parvati asked the Brahmin priest of the temple who had won the game, he absentmindedly answered that Lord Shankar had when in reality, it was the Goddess who had won. Thus in her rage, the Goddess cursed the priest to a life of leprosy. After a few years, a group of fairies pitied the priest's fate and advised him to observe a fast every Monday for sixteen weeks. He was asked to prepare a Prasad on the seventeenth Monday to distribute amongst his family members and other revered individuals. The priest followed this ritual religiously, which turned him back to his usual self. After a while, when Goddess Parvati and Lord Mahadev revisited the temple, the Goddess was surprised to see the priest. On learning of his devotion and practice of the Solah Somvar Vrat, she was extremely pleased and blessed him with happiness.
Although there aren't any extensive rituals, anyone who decides to observe fasts on Monday must follow it with utmost dedication. On the day of the fast, the individual must wake up early in the morning and worship Lord Shiva before undertaking any task. One can install a Shivaling in their Puja Ghar or shrine place, or they can put up a picture of Lord Shiva. One thing to remember is that the Puja Ghar has to be in the North-East direction of the house, and the face of the Shivaling should be in the North direction. The offering of Puja to Mahadev is quite simple. It is done by, first, reading or hearing the Solah Somvar Vrat Katha, then by offering Bel Patra, Roti, Chawal, flowers, Dhoop, Dip, Diya, Chandan, Dhatura, milk, curd, camphor, Kanter Phool, Janeu, and Prasad. Another rule of the Solah Somvar Vrat is that red Kumkum or Sindoor, besides coconut water, is not offered to Lord Shiva.