Shani puja is done to appease the shani graha or the Saturn planet. Among all planets, Saturn is the most dreaded. This puja nullifies the malefic effects of Shani graha as far as possible, so that the person under its ill influence can pass off the phase with as little harm as possible. Shani is said to be both a giver as well as a destroyer. Shani is usually depicted as dark in color, clothed in black, holding a sword, arrows and two daggers and is mounted on a crow, which is Shani’s vahana or carrier. Shani is also known as Sanaischarya, Shanishwara and Chaya Putra.
Emergence of Lord Shani
Saturn is said to be the son of Surya Deva and his wife Chaya. Surya or Sun was married to Sandhya with whom he had three children. But Sandhya could not bear the glaring radiance of Sun for long and decided to go back to her perents house. Before she left, she told her shadow or Chaya to mother her children and to serve Surya. After some time Chaya gave birth to Shani. Lord Shani is said to be guided by Lord Shiva. Legend has it, when the infant Shani opened his eyes right after birth, the Sun went into an eclipse. He was born on Amavasya of Vaishakh month and hence this day is celebrated as Shani Jayanti. People worship Shani Dev on this day to minimize the malefic effects of Shani on them.
Auspicious time to offer Shani puja
People perform Shani puja to the best of their abilities on specific days which are special to Shani Dev. These days are Shani Amavasya, Shani Jayanti, Shani trayodashi. Shani Jayanti is celebrated on vaishak vadya chaturdasi amavasya and it is believed that Lord Shani was born on this auspicious day. Given his furious nature, puja is offered in a very sombre manner and all related rituals are strictly followed. The new moon when falling on a Saturday, it is known as Shaneshchari Amavasya. In a year normally there will be two or three Shaneshchari Amavasya. Great care is taken to offer Shani dev puja on this day to attain maximum possible benefits.
Shani trayodashi falls on the shukla paksha of asadha month according to the Indian lunar calendar. It is considered as one of the most auspicious days for Shani puja as it is believed to be the favourite day of the deity. He is the lord of Saturdays and so trayodashi falls on a Saturday. It is a day when the otherwise difficult to please god gives happiness and peace to people and nullifies the negative effects of life.