Ganesh Chaturthi is an important festival in Hindu calendar, which is celebrated in the Hindu month of Bhadrapad (mid Aug- mid sept). This year it falls on September 9th. It is celebrated for 10 days and this differs from place to place in India, as per one`s tradition. Lord Ganesha is a deity who bestows good fortune, wisdom, success and prosperity. He destroys one`s sorrows and obstacles accumulated over the past and grants a new lease of life.
The day becomes special by the ritualistic worship of Ganesha, as it elevates the thoughts from mundane to spiritual.
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 pooja
- A clay image of Ganesha
- Flowers like jasmine, lotus, red flowers, erukku(milk weed)
- Red sandal paste
- Betel leaves
- Durva grass
- Modak (sweet rice dumplings)
- Sacred white thread
- Ghee lamp
- Raised platform
- Food preparations
Steps for Ritualistic Worship
1. Take bath and clean your house.
Decorate your doorway with flowers and mango leaves. Artificial hangings or torans can also be used for decoration.
2. Draw rangolis or geometric patterns
in front of the doorway with raw rice flour. One can also use colored powder available in stores for this purpose. It is a symbol of auspiciousness. It helps attract positive vibrations into the house.
3. 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 with 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.
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. 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)
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.
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 favorite food is the modak. Food offered to Ganesha is called Prasad and it should be distributed after the pooja.
Once food offering is done, then arti along with ringing of bells should be done to him. It is showing of light to the deity and invoking his blessings.
7. Friends and family
Friends, neighbors 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.
8. Final ceremony
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 to you?
Vital energy increases. Negative energies are eliminated. Subtle body gets purified. Mind attains tranquility and intellect is sharpened.
Walk down the street
It is a street festival where huge idols of Ganesha are placed and prayers are offered. It is accompanied with bhajans, lighting of fire crackers, ringing of bells, food distribution, and gathering of people with cultural activities like drama, singing, dance and so forth. This goes on for days depending upon the region and tradition of that particular place.
- 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.