Amavasya, no moon day, holds a special importance in the Hindu culture as many rituals are performed on this tithi. The days are also considered appropriate to perform Shraddha rituals. Amavasya that falls on Mondays are known as ‘Somvati Amavasya’ and the ones falling on Saturdays are called ‘Shani Amavasya’. The days are dedicated to Lord Shani and are celebrated to get rid of problems in life. Lord Shani is also known as Chhaya Putra, Sanaischarya, and Shanishwara. On Shani Amavasya, people perform tarpan and Shradh for dead relatives. It is believed that worshipping ‘pitras’ (departed souls) on this day helps the dead souls to rest in peace. Performing puja and daan on this day helps to mitigate the negative effect of pitra dosha and kaalsarp dosha. Observing vrat on the day helps to seek blessings of Lord Shani. In a year there are around 2-3 Shani Amavasya. In 2018, there are two Shani Amawasya, one was on March 17 and the other falls on August 11.
Devotees observe fast on the day and break it after sunset by consuming rice mixed with sesame seeds or black urad dal. Those undergoing saadesati period or Shani Mahadasha are advised to observe vrat and perform puja on the day to get rid of the trouble and seek a peace of mind. Devotees chant prayers and mantras for Shani Dev throughout the day.
The Shani Amavasya will be celebrated on Ashada Amavasya as per the Amavasyant Panchang followed in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Gujarat. As per Purnimant Panchang, it is celebrated in North Indian states as Hariyalli Amavasya, both falling on August 11.
The idol of Lord Shani is bathed with water and black clothes are offered to the lord. Jaggery and Chana (Gram) are offered to the lord and bhog with black sesame seeds as an ingredient is offered. Sesame lamps are lit in front of the idol. To make sesame lamps, pour sesame oil in earthen lamps. Take a cloth and fill it with sesame seeds and tie it. Dip the cloth in the lamp and let it soak the oil. Once it properly soaks the oil light the closed end.
To seek blessings of Lord Shani, Shani Dosha Nirvana Puja, Shani Japam, Shani Homam, and Thailabhishekam are some of the pujas advised performing on the day.
There is also a tradition of performing Chhaya Daan during Shani Amavasya. To perform the ritual, take mustard oil in a bowl or a plate and place it under your bed. Once you wake up in the morning look at your reflection in the oil and offer it any Shani temple. This is known as Chhaya Daan.
Amawasya tithi begins: August 10, 2018, at 7:07 pm
Amawasya tithi ends: August 11, 2018, at 3:27 pm