Deities & Rituals for 7 Days of the Week
Each of the seven days in a week has a special significance and is apportioned to one or more Hindu gods or goddesses and there are several folklores associated with the ritual fasting observed on these days.
On the following pages, we look at the seven days, the respective planet & deities associated with the particular days, relevant tales and legends, and the gemstones and colors that are said to be lucky for those days.
Fasting Associated with the Daily Deities
Hindu devotees keep occasional ‘upvaas’orfast corresponding to the fulfillment of a vow or a belief and ‘vratas’ (fasting and observance of religious rituals) that is analogous with material or other gains. Apart from these special occasions, many devotees also fast on a particular day of the week dedicated to a particular god in the Hindu pantheon to appease him/her. Ancient sages used observances like ritual fasts to spread the awareness of different gods. Fasting and other rituals pave the path of the divine for the devotees to realize god, which is considered the sole purpose of human existence.
The Navagraha – the 9 Celestial Bodies
Navagraha represents the nine celestial influencers in Vedic Astrology. The seven daysare named after the seven celestial bodies of our solar system – the Sun, Moon and the planets. Apart from these, mention should be made here of Rahu and Ketu, the two nodes of the Moon – the north and the south, the points of intersection of the paths of the Moon and the Sun. Lunar eclipses occur when the Moon and the Sun are at Rahu or Ketu. So, Navagraha comprises of:
- Surya (Sun)
- Chandra (Moon)
- Mangala (Mars)
- Budha (Murcury)
- Brihaspati (Jupiter)
- Shukra (Venus)
- Shani (Saturn)
Monday is dedicated to Lord Shiva. On this day, he is worshipped along with his consort goddess Parvati. Though, of course, as is the custom, Lord Ganesha is venerated right at the beginning of the worship. Devotees also listen to Shiva Bhajans on this day.
The ‘Somvar Vrat’ or Monday fast is observed from sunrise till sunset and the devotee partakes of the food only after saying his evening prayer.
Fasting on Mondays in the month of Shravan is considered even more auspicious. Hindus believe that observing a fast or ‘upvaas’ on Mondays will satisfy Lord Shiva who will grant them wisdom and fulfill all their desires. In some places, unmarried girls and spinsters keep fast to be blessed with an ideal husband.
This tradition goes back to Hindu mythology, though the myths vary greatly from region to region. Among the popular ones are: There lived a very poor Brahmin who started devoting his Mondays to fasting and worshipping Lord Shiva. After a period of time, the Lord was satisfied with his devotion and blessed him with wealth. Another lore speaks of a rich merchant who begets a son after a prolonged wait but the child dies. It is only with the grace of Lord Shiva and Parvati that the son is reborn. A third story is describes a game of dice played between Shiva and Parvati that makes Monday important for Shiva.
Color & Gem:
White is the preferred color of the day and Pearl the preferred gem.
The Moon (Chandra) rules Monday.
Tuesday is dedicated to Lord Hanuman. In South India, the day is dedicated to Skanda, aka Muruga or Kartikeya. Devotees also listen to Hanuman Chalisa, songs dedicated to the simian deity, on this day.
It is a whole day fast. Devotees who undertake Mangalvar fast only take a single meal usually consisting of any food made of wheat and jaggery. Most Hindus keep the fast for 21 Tuesdays without a break.
Mangalvar Upvaas is to satisfy Hanuman (the monkey god) and Mangal (Mars) that rules the day, and from which it takes its name. Mangal is considered a trouble maker and the fast is observed to ward off evils and problems that strewn our path and make way for happiness. The underlying belief is that Lord Hanuman will help his devotees to overcome difficulties in life especially those created by the intervention of ‘Mangal graha’ or Mars. Also, couples desirous of having a son, too, observe this fast stringently.
Color & Gem:
People wear red-colored clothes on Tuesdays and offer red flowers to Lord Hanuman. ‘Moonga’ is the preferred gem of the day.
Mars (Mangal) rules Tuesdays.
Wednesday is dedicated to Lord Krishna, and is also associated with Lord Vithal, an incarnation of Krishna. In some places Lord Vishnu is also worshipped. Devotees listen toKrishna Bhajans on this day.
Hindu devotees who fast on Wednesdays take a single meal in the afternoon. The ritual fast, i.e., ‘vrat’ or ‘upvaas,’ is observed by couples – the husband and the wife together. ‘Budhvar Upvaas’ or Wednesday Fastis believed to be auspicious for leading a peaceful family life.
People start new business or enterprise on Wednesdays as the planet Mercury or Budh is believed to augment new projects. This day is also lucky for students and they pray for success in education.
Color & Gem:
The color green is the preferred color and Onyx and Emerald the preferred gems.
It is the day of the planet Budh (Mercury), who is often considered compassionate and generous.
Thursday is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Brihaspati, the guru of gods. Hence, this day is called Vrihaspativar, after the apportioned god. Thursday is also popularly known as Guruvar. Devotees listen to devotional songs, such as “Om Jai Jagadish Hare” dedicated to Lord Vishnu on this day.
Devotees adorn yellow colored clothes and offer yellow flowers to propitiate god Vishnu and Vrihaspati.
They fast throughout the day and consume food only once which consists of ‘chana daal’ (Bengal Gram) and ‘ghee’ (clarified butter). The food color used is yellow. Many offer banana or plantain to god. In Bengal, they worship goddess Lakshmi and elsewhere, people also visit Hanuman temples on Thursdays. Through ‘pujas’ (worship) and ‘vrats’ (fast) on Thursdays, it is believed, devotees are blessed with wealth, success, fame, and happiness.
The popular myth is that Lord Vishnu once appears before a devout Hindu disguised as a mendicant to test the devotee on a Thursday. Some believe it was Lord Vrihaspati. At first the devotee neglects his duties towards the holy man and denies him alms and is lethargic but later when he realizes his mistake, he observes a ritual fast on Thursdays and appeases the gods.
Color & Gem:
Yellow is the color of the day and the preferred gems are Sapphire and Pokhraj.
The planet Jupiter (Vrihaspati) rules Thursday.
Friday or Shukravar is dedicated to Shakti, the Mother Goddess, and Santoshi Mata, an incarnation of Shakti. Goddesses Durga and Kali are worshipped with utmost devotion and devotees flock to the Shakti temples on this day. Devotees listen to Durga Aarti, Kali Aarti and Santoshi Mata Aarti on this day.
Shukravar fasting begins at sunrise and ends with sunset and devotees wear white dress and partakes in the evening meal that consists of white-colored food like ‘kheer’ or ‘payasam’ a dessert made og milk and rice.
Great importance is attached to the ‘Solah Shukravar Vrats’ or the 16 Friday fasts for Santoshi Mata, where a devotee fasts for 16 consecutive Fridays. It is mandatory on the devotee to avoid any sour food items during this sixteen-week long Friday fasting and offer the goddess ‘chana’ (Bengal gram) and ‘gur’ (jaggery or solid molasses). Goddess Santoshi Mata grants devotees any wish or desire if she is amply satisfied with the purity of their devotion. Lord Shukra provides happiness and material wealth and the period of Shukra in the devotees’ astrological chart is considered to be most productive and lucky.
According to one story, a devotee dishonors Lord Shukra, and later when he faces several untoward incidents, he realizes his mistake, and then begins rigorous fasting to propitiate the god. He is finally amply rewarded.
Color & Gem:
White, Indigo, orange, violet, purple and burgundy colors are preferred on Friday. Diamond is the preferred gem.
Venus or Shukra rules Friday.
Saturday is dedicated to the fearful god Shani, who is one of the Navagrahas – or nine planets. He is represented as a deity carrying bow and arrows and riding a crow or a vulture.
There are temples exclusively dedicated to god Shani and normally they are painted black. The idol too is black in color, and sometimes made of iron. Devotees observing the Shanivar fast usually visit Shani shrines and offer black-colored items like sesame oil, black clothes, and black grams.
After the evening prayers, those devotees take a single meal, which is usually cooked sans salt, prepared using sesame til or black gram or other black colored food items. Some worship the ‘peepal tree’ (the holy Indian fig) and tie thread around its bark. Shani is said to ward off ill effects, illness and troubles. Shani is so dreaded that many Hindus avoid long journeys on Saturday. Fast is observed by many to avoid the adversities and misfortunes on Shanivar. It is also believed that those who have Lord Hanuman’s blessings are protected from Shani’s wrath. So many people flock to Hanuman temple on Saturday.
Legend has it that Lord Hanuman had rescued Shani from Ravana, the demon king of Lanka, at the time when Hanuman set Lanka ablaze as depicted in the epic Ramayana. Lord Shani had then promised that he would not trouble Lord Hanuman devotees.
Color & Gem:
Blue and black are the preferred colors. Blue gems, such as, blue sapphire, black iron rings made of horse-shoe are worn to ward off Shani.
The planet Saturn or Shani rules Saturday.
Sunday is dedicated to Lord Surya or Suryanarayana – the Sun God.
After a ritual bath and cleansing of their body and their house and surrounding, devotees offer red color flowers to Surya and apply red sandalwood paste as ’tilak’ on their forehead. They keep a fast throughout the day and eat food only once before sunset and avoid salt, oil and fried food items. Alms are also given on that day.
Ravivar Vrat or Sunday fasts help in fulfilling ones wishes and it is believed that all kinds of skin diseases get cured.
Color & Gem:
Red and pink are the color of the day and ruby the preferred gem.
Sun or Surya rules Sunday.
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