Each lunar month in Hindu calendar has two Chaturthi Tithis*. [The fourth day of the bright fortnight is called “Chaturthi”; and “Tithi” means “lunar day”]. According to Hindu scriptures, Chaturthi Tithi belongs to Lord Ganesha. The Chaturthi after Amavasya (=new moon) is known asVinayaka Chaturthi and the one after Purnimasi (=full moon) is known as Sankashti Chaturthi.
Serious aspirants, especially those whose “chosen deity” is Lord Ganesha, fast twice a month on the said two Chaturthis. The most significant of these fasts isGanesha Chaturthi. Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated by Hindus all over the world as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. On this auspicious day, Lord Ganesh is worshipped as the God of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. It is believed that Lord Ganesh was born during Shukla Paksha (the period after new moon, and at Madhyahana Kaalam (=midday). Therefore, Ganesh Puja is preferred during Madhyahana.
The scriptures, to wit, Agni Purana and Ganesha Purana, have said that one ought not to see the moon on Ganesh Chaturthi. If one, however, does it creates Mithya Dosham or Mithya Kalank (=false accusation of stealing something).
According to Ganesha Purana, on Chaturthi the placement of the Sun and the Moon is in a manner that it encourages us to do things that can be detrimental to our progress. To avoid such situations, you must worship Lord Ganesha and observe a fast in honour of him.
Observation Of Fast On Ganesh Chaturthi
Lord Ganesha is the Lord of wisdom, knowledge and peace. He removes all forms of hardship.
Aspirants who observe this fast should take bath early in the morning. The fast is observed from dawn to moonrise. According to smriti kaustubha, the sankanthara vrata has to be done without eating food and water. Now smriti kaustubha grantha says that the vratha has to be broken at the moonrise time after doing puja to the Lord. For those who cannot observe the fast owing to medical condition or other compelling reasons, the Smriti allows them to drink water but not too often. The common vrata paribhasha says, “Drinking too much fluid (often, even water), eating tobacco, or betel nuts, or betel leaves, or any other activity prohibited by vrata” will break the fast. One cannot smoke or consume alchohol or eat meat of any kind during vrata or after breaking the fast, and the fast cannot be broken with meat products.
Are menstruating women allowed to observe this vrata?
The Nirnaysindhukar clearly addresses this issue: whenever sutaka (ashoucha) appears one can continue doing vrata by following sharirika dharma. It means you can observe the fast. Do manasika (in your mind) puja but actual puja can be performed on your behalf by their family members. They can take sankalpa on your behalf.
How you should worship Lord Ganesha
- Cleanse your body: Taking a bath in the Name of the God is said to wash away the sins and miseries of life. It brings happiness, health, wealth, increases progeny and salvation.
- Offer white flowers: Offering white flowers to the Lord brings success and fame.
- Offer Arugam grass (=Cynodon dactylon, also known as dūrvā grass, Dhoob, Bermuda grass, dog’s tooth grass, Bahama grass, couch grass, and scutch grass): Offering Arugam grass brings good luck, prosperity and children.
- Offer vermilion: Offering Vermilion or Sindoor brings good fortune.
- Light incense: Offering incense brings fame.
- Offer sweets (Laddoo): Offering sweets will help you fulfil your desires.
- Mantra Pushpanjali: Offer flowers to Lord Ganesha and ask His forgiveness for the mistakes you have made.
Note: If Sankashti Chaturthi falls on Tuesday it is called Angarki Chaturthi and it is considered highly auspicious.
What is the significance of Angarika Chaturthi
Once in Kailash, Lord Shiva was immersed in great Penance (Tapasya). While in penance, three drops of sweat fell from his fore head on the ground. The sweat drops transformed into a child with red complexion, with four arms. The Earth gave this kid to Sage Bhardwaja. As he was given by Earth he was named as Bhauma, “The son of Earth”.
When Bhauma was in his teens, Sage Bhradwaja told him about “Ganesh Mantra”, and explained to him how it should be chanted. Sage Bhardwaja advised Bhauma to go to the banks of Narmada and perform Penance or Tapasya to seek the blessings of Lord Ganesha.
Bhauma performed great penance in honour of Lord Ganesha, reciting the Ganesh Mantra. Lord Ganesha, after few years, pleased with the penance, appeared before Bhauma on the fourth day of Krishna Paksha, i.e., on the fourth day of waning phase of the moon.
Lord Ganesha made Bhauma the head of Mangala Loka. Lord Ganesha also said that Bhauma would become famous by the name of Angaraka. Lord Ganesha further added that, those who observe the Sankashti Chaturthi Vrat on a Mangalavara (=Tuesday) would be blessed, much more than what they get if they fast on normal Sankashti Chaturthis.
Lord Ganesha also declared that a Sankashthi Chaturthi which would falls on a Mangala Vara or Tuesday would be known as Angarika Chaturthi or Angaraka Chaturthi.