Vinayaka / Sankashti Chaturthi (संकष्टी चतुर्थी) also known as Sankata Hara Chaturthi is an auspicious day dedicated to Lord Ganesha. This day is observed in every Lunar month of Hindu calendar month on the fourth day of Krishna Paksha (dark lunar phase or the waning phase). If this Chaturthi falls on a Tuesday it is called Angaraki Sankashti Chaturthi. Angaraki Sankashti Chaturthi is considered highly important among all Sankashti Chaturthi days.
Although Vinayaka Chaturthi fasting is done every month but the most significant Vinayaka Chaturthi falls in month of Bhadrapada. Vinayaka Chaturthi during Bhadrapada month is known as Ganesha Chaturthi. Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated by Hindus all over the world as the birthday of Lord Ganesha.
ॐ एकदन्ताय विद्धमहे, वक्रतुण्डाय धीमहि, तन्नो दन्ति प्रचोदयात्॥
Devotees of Lord Ganesha keep fast from sunrise to moonrise on Sankashti Chaturthi. Sankashti means deliverance during troubled times. Lord Ganesha, the supreme lord of intelligence, symbolizes the remover of all obstacles. Hence it is believed that one can get rid of all obstacles by observing this fast.
Ganesh Sankashta Chaturthi Vrata is of great importance in Marathi culture. It is known as Pillayar Sankatanashana Chaturthi in TamilNadu.
The importance of Sankashti Chaturthi Vrat was explained by Lord Krishna to Yudhishtira, the eldest of the Pandavas. It is also detailed in the Narasimha Purana and Bhavishaya Purana.
Sankashti Vrat and Puja is preformed for Lord Ganesha on the fourth day after Purnima or full moon of every Hindu Lunar month.
By observing this fast people pray to Lord Ganesha and impress him, as it is believed that this fast helps in removing all difficulties and obstacles in life.
It is a full day fast observed till the sighting of the moon and Sankashti Puja is performed in the evening. If you are not able to observe a full day fast due to sickness or health problems then you can observe a partial fast and can eat Sabudana Khichadi or fruits or curd rice.
Procedure for the fast is mentioned below :
After early morning bath, prayers are offered to Lord Ganesha in the usual way by lighting a lamp or Aarti. After performing this the fast begins. Then in the evening the puja is usually performed after sighting the moon or as per the moonrise time given in the panchang or calendar (if the moon is not visible for a long time). After sighting the moon, an idol or painting or photo of Lord Ganesha is decorated using flowers and Durva grass and a lamp is lit. A coconut, banana, prasad (Modak) and flowers are offered to Lord Ganesha. Then the evening aarti is performed and Ganpati mantras are chanted. Special pujas are offered to Chandra or moon god. The puja involves sprinkling water, sandalwood paste, flowers and consecrated rice in the direction of the moon. After the puja the prasad and the other offering to the lord are distributed.
वक्रतुण्ड महाकाय सुर्यकोटि समप्रभ
निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे देव सर्वकार्येषु सर्वदा
It is widely believed by Lord Ganesha devotees that observing Sankashti Chaturthi will bring material progress, happiness and fulfillment of desires.