The festival prayer of Ganesha Chaturthi also known as ‘Vinayak Chaturthi’ or ‘Vinayagar Chaturthi’ is an annual event when Hindus celebrate and praise the Hindu god Ganesha. The day becomes special by the ritualistic worship of Lord Ganesha, as it elevates the thoughts from mundane to spiritual. This year Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated on Saturday, 22 August 2020.
The image of Ganesha is believed to absorb all the negativity in one’s household, as one offers prayers to him by way of chanting, offering plenty of tasty food, lighting lamp, dressing him up with devotion and praying to him sincerely. This image is kept at home for pooja and then immersed in water, symbolic of dissolving all evil and negative energies that manifest in one`s life as sorrow and pain.
Things needed for the Ganesha Chaturthi pooja
- A clay image of Ganesha
- Flowers like jasmine, lotus, red flowers, erukku (milkweed)
- Red sandal paste
- Betel leaves
- Durva grass
- Modak sweet rice dumplings recipe here
- OR Indian sweet rice is the simplest offering you can make recipe here
- Sacred white thread
- Ghee lamp
- Raised platform
- Food preparations
Steps for ritual worship
Take a bath and clean your house. Decorate your doorway with flowers and mango leaves. Artificial hangings or torans can also be used for decoration.
- Draw rangolis or geometric patterns
This can be done in front of the doorway with raw rice flour. One can also use coloured powder available in stores for this purpose. It is a symbol of auspiciousness. It helps attract positive vibrations into the house.
- The idol of Ganesha: Install a clay model of Ganesha and keep him in your prayer altar or in any sanctified place. (Ganesha idols are worshipped as it attracts the Ganesh principle, which is the highest on the earth plane, on this particular day)
- Place him on a raised platform and dress him in a white silk dhoti and a silk shawl.
- Draw a rangoli in front of him too with rice flour. ( when white ants feed upon the flour, immense merit would follow the devotee, it is believed)
- He can be decked up with ornaments and the sacrificial white thread should be tied on him.
- Offer him a garland of Durva grass and flowers like jasmine, lotus, milkweed etc. Red sandal paste should adorn his forehead.
- Lamps should be lit using ghee or clarified butter. Light incense that would fill the air with a good fragrance.
The Mantras For Ganesha Chaturthi
Recitation of mantras is called, “Prana Pratishta” in Sanskrit, meaning breathing of prana or life current into the image, making it fit for worship. Mantras give life to the form. Sacred mantras should be chanted like “Om Gam Ganapathaye” to invoke his blessings of success in all undertakings and destruction of all obstacles to well being.
The Rig- Veda mantra for Pran-prathista should be recited:
ganananh tva ganapatim havamahe kavim kavinam – upamashravastamam | jyeshhtharajam brahmanan.h brahmanaspata A nah shrivnvannutibhih sida sadanam || (Rig Veda 2.23.1)
ni shhu sida ganapate ganeshhu tvamahurvipratamam kavinam | na rite tvat.h kriyate kinchanare mahamarkam maghavan.h chitramarcha || (Rig Veda 10.112.9)
It is believed that Lord Ganesha was a fan of ladoos and modak—a sweet dumpling filled with jaggery and coconut made from rice or wheat flour. On this festival, various forms of modak are made and offered as prasad. Around 21 sweets including modak, ladoos are offered to Lord Ganesha as bhog. Food offerings should be made to him like modaks (sweet rice dumplings), coconut, cooked channa, jaggery, semolina laddus, besan laddus, kheer and different types of fruits.
However, his favourite food is modak. The food offered to Ganesha is called Prasad and it should be distributed after the pooja.
Once food offering is done, then aarti along with the ringing of bells should be done for Lord Ganesha. It is showing of light to the deity and invoking his blessings. Friends, neighbours and relatives can be called over to share the festive spirit and enjoy a meal with you. Food prepared at home should be shared with others. It brings in good merit.
Towards evening, after some prayers, he should be carried to a sea or some water body for immersion. It is a very important part of the pooja. He is thrown into the water with some coins and flowers, in the belief that he is carrying all our burdens with him and dissolving them, only to come back the next year. This ceremony is called visarjan in Hindi.
What the pooja does for you?
Vital energy increases. Negative energies are eliminated. Subtle body gets purified. Mind attains tranquility and intellect is sharpened.
- One can keep the statue of Ganesha for odd number of days ranging from 1-11. The festival is for 10 days and the idol can be immersed on the 1st, or 3rd, or 5th or 7th or 9th or the 11th day. When he is at home, pooja should be done to him in the morning and in the evening.
- During his stay at home, he washes away the sorrows of that home and blesses the members with good tidings.
- Ganesha is generally worshipped before commencement of anything auspicious. He removes obstacles and paves way to victory. He can be invoked anytime for good fortune.
- Students can pray to him anytime, as he grants intelligence.
- One should avoid using idols made of POP (Plaster of Paris), as it is not eco-friendly.
- Scriptures say that one should not take sight of the moon on this particular day, as the Moon God was cursed for mocking Ganesha this day.
Why do we celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi for 11 days?
He is worshipped with elaborate rituals for 10 days, so as to invoke his blessings and when his stay is over, the statue is ceremoniously immersed in a water body. This is called visarjan.
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