Ashunya Shayana (sleeping with family) is also popularly known as Shoonya Sayan Vratam. This festival is dedicated to Lord Vishnu (Preserver of the Universe) and Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth). Devotees fast with a lot of devotion on this auspicious day. This fast is observed by married couples for nuptial bliss and well-being of the wedded couple.
During this period Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi rest on the Aadisheshu (the primordial snake) upon the Ksheer Sagar (the milk ocean). On this day, Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi are worshipped with Shodashopchar (16 types of prayer rituals).
Ashunya Shayana is usually observed on Dwitiya (second day) during Krishna Paksha (waning phase of Moon) in the Shravan month (fifth month in the Hindu calendar). In some regions of India, this festival is also observed on the second day after Purnima (culmination of full moon day) during the Kartik month (eighth month in the Hindu calendar).
The legend of Ashunya Shayana (sleeping with family) is mentioned in the Narada Purana (one of the eighteen major Hindu scriptures). It elaborates in detail as to how a common man struggled with starvation and famine throughout his life. However, after observing Ashunya Shayana vrat (fast), in his next birth he was a great and successful king.
Rituals and Celebrations
This festival is widely celebrated in the Northern and Southern states of India. On this day, fast is observed mainly by married couples to ensure that a wife never becomes a widow or her husband should never leave her company and they both live with immense love and happiness forever. Devotees fast on the day of Ashunya Shayana and perform the Shayanaotsavam (deity is offered rest) on Lord Vishnu.
This fast should start with Vishnu prayer (prayer to the Supreme Lord or the Preserver). After the ritual prayers, the couple observing the fast should have fruits in the night. Next morning, after offering prayers, the couple should religiously donate a wide variety of ripe and sweet fruits to the priests along with new clothes, and other gifts. This fast should be strictly observed for four months so as to ensure all round well being and happiness to the family.
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