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Kedara Gowri Vratam: A Sacred Fast for Prosperity and Salvation
Kedara Gowri Vratam is a popular fast observed by devotees of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati in South India. It is also known as Kedara Gauri Vratam or Kedarnath Vratam. This fast begins on the eighth day of the bright fortnight of Purattasi month (September-October) and continues for 21 days till Deepavali. On the last day, devotees break their fast by performing a special puja to Lord Kedareswara and Goddess Kedara Gowri.
The significance of this fast is based on a legend that narrates how Goddess Parvati performed a severe penance to attain Lord Shiva as her husband. She created a lingam out of clay and sand and worshipped it with great devotion. She also observed a strict fast for 21 days, eating only one bilva leaf per day. Lord Shiva was pleased with her devotion and appeared before her. He granted her wish and married her in the form of Kedareswara. He also blessed her that whoever observes this fast with faith and devotion will attain all their desires in this world and eventually reach his abode.
The procedure of this fast is as follows: Devotees should wake up early in the morning and take a bath. They should then install an idol or picture of Lord Ganesha and worship him with flowers, sandalwood paste, kumkum, arugampul, modakam and coconut. They should also recite the 16 names of Lord Ganesha and offer him naivedyam, deepam, agarbatti and tamboolam. After that, they should invoke Lord Kedareswara and Goddess Kedara Gowri by placing a clay pot (kudam) on a plate (thambalam) filled with rice. They should decorate the pot with turmeric, kumkum, sandalwood paste, flowers and garlands. They should also place a coconut on top of the pot and insert a mango leaf into it. They should then place another plate with rice on top of the coconut and place another pot on it. This pot should be filled with water mixed with turmeric, kumkum and sandalwood paste. They should also insert five mango leaves into this pot. This arrangement is known as kalasam.
Devotees should then worship Lord Kedareswara and Goddess Kedara Gowri with vilvam leaves, thumbai flowers, konda kadalai, rice grains, sesame seeds, jaggery, ghee and milk. They should also recite the following mantra:
Om kedaraaya namah
Om kedara gowryai namah
Om kedara gowraaya namah
Om kedara gowra gowryai namah
Om kedara gowra gowraaya namah
Om kedara gowra gowra gowryai namah
Om kedareswaraaya namah
Om kedareswaryai namah
Om kedareswara swaryai namah
Om kedareswaryaa swaraaya namah
Om kedareswaryaa swara swaryai namah
Om kedarnathaaya namah
Om kedarnathyai namah
Om kedarnatha nathyai namah
Om kedarnathyaa nathaaya namah
Om kedarnathyaa natha nathyai namah
They should also offer naivedyam, deepam, agarbatti and tamboolam to the deities. They should then listen to or read the story of Kedara Gowri Vratam from a book or online source[^1^] [^2^] [^3^]. They should also perform deeparadhana by waving lamps around the kalasam and the deities. They should then distribute prasadam to their family members and other devotees.
Devotees should observe this fast for 21 days by eating only one meal per day after sunset. They should also avoid onion, garlic, salt, oil and spicy food. They should also abstain from alcohol, tobacco, meat and other non aa16f39245