The month of Shravan, is the month associated with the legendary churning of the ocean (‘Samudra manthan’). This churning was produced by the conflict between the forces of light and dark, the gods (‘devas’) and demons (‘asuras‘) who were each vying for the amrit, the nectar of life that would emerge from the ocean. During this churning, many gifts emerged from the ocean which Lord Shiva divided between the gods and demons. What also emerged was the poison ‘Halahal’ which could destroy the whole universe. This poison, Shiva held in his throat (which turned his throat blue – giving him the name “Neelkanth” or the blue-throated one).
Shiva holding the poison that destroys the universe in his throat symbolises that he transcends the universe, the play of light and dark, of gods and demons. This transcendental aspect of Shiva is what is aspired to in this auspicious month of Shravan.
On the 5th day of the bright phase of this month, Nag Panchami is celebrated which is dedicated to the reverence of the snake. The snake, specifically the cobra, is associated with Lord Shiva because of its highly sensitive perception which symbolises ‘Awareness’.
Some quick facts about Shravan (or ‘Saavan’) – a very auspicious month falling in the monsoon season in India: