What is the significance of celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi?
Spiritual science underlying calling Sri Ganesh ji ‘Vighnaharta’
1. Sipping water from the palm (achaman): This brings about internal purification.
2. The resolve (sankalpa): It may be difficult to obtain the benefit of a ritual without making a resolve.
3. Purification of the seat (asanshuddhi): This is brought about by touching one’s seat and offering obeisance (namaskar).
4. Chanting the Purushsukta (Purushsukta nyas): Amidst chanting of the Purushsukta, the deity should be invoked in one’s heart, head, small portion of hair on the head (shikha), face, eyes and between the eyebrows. This facilitates an increase in the sattvik (sattva predominant) temperament.
5. Worship of the pot (kalashpuja): All deities, seas, holy rivers, etc., should be invoked in the pot. Sandalwood paste (gandha), consecrated rice (akshata) and flowers should be offered to the pot. This sattvik water is then used in the ritualistic worship.
6. Worship of the conch (shankhapuja): The conch should be washed and filled with water. Then sandalwood paste and white flowers should be offered to it. One should not offer consecrated rice and tulsi leaves to it.
7. Worship of the bell (ghantapuja): One should create sound by ringing the bell to welcome the deities and drive off the demons (asurs). The bell should be placed to one’s left and sandalwood paste, consecrated rice and flowers should be offered to it.
8. Worship of the lamp (dipapuja): Sandalwood paste and flowers are offered to the lamp.
9. Purification (pavitrikaran): The water from the conch should be poured onto one’s right palm and then sprinkled over oneself and on the substances to be used in the ritualistic worship.
10. Worship of the entrance (dvarpuja): Flowers and consecrated rice should be scattered in all four directions. This itself is the worship of the guardian deities of the directions (dikpal).
11. Consecration of the idol (pranpratistha): One should place the right hand over the heart of the idol of the deity and chant a mantra. Consecration of an idol is done at Ganesh chaturthi or to activate any new idol. This is not included in the usual ritualistic worship, as due to the regular worship the God principle has already been attained by it.
12. Meditation (dhyan): One should chant ‘Vakratunda mahakaya suryakoti samaprabha Nirvighnam kurume deva sarva Karyeshu Sarvada.
How to perform Ganesh Chaturthi Puja at Home?
- A Clay image of Lord Ganesha.
- Red flowers
- Druva Grass blades
- Modak (jaggery filled sweet)
- Red chandan (Sandalwood paste)
- Incense and agarbathis
- First clean the house and take a bath.
- A Clay image of Lord Ganesha is installed in a raised platform.
Pray to Lord Ganesh and you can recite mantras or bhajans dedicated to Lord Ganesha.
- Next step is to invoke Ganesha into the image. This is known as pran-prathishta. The Pran Prathista mantra in Sanskrit to be invoked is found in the Rig Veda and is part of Ganesh Suktha.
- Now Ganesha is installed in the idol and one can perform arati and light the lamps. Some people perform the shhodashopachara, which are 16 forms of paying tribute to Ganesha. (This ritual is usually performed by the priests, you can skip this.)
- Offer 21 blades of Druva Grass.
- Offer 21 modakas
- Offer red flowers
- Apply a tilak using red Sandalwood paste.
- Break the coconut or just keep it along with the idol. You can also keep fried grains. (The food of the rat – the vehicle of Ganesha).
- You can also recite the 108 salutations dedicated to Lord Ganesha or read the Ganesha Upanishad or just simply pray.
The number 21 signifies – the five organs of perception, five organs of action, five vital airs (pranas), five elements, and the mind.
While performing Ganesha Puja at home, you can always be flexible. The strict rituals are meant for Vedic priests. All you need be careful is to perform the pujas with a clean body and clean mind. What is more important is devotion not the ritual.
What is the need for a new idol?
Inspite of having an idol of Ganapati, which is routinely worshiped, a new idol is brought for Ganesha Chaturthi. During the period of Ganesha Chatuthi, the Ganesha frequencies reach the earth in larger quantities. If these frequencies are invoked in the usual idol of worship, then that idol will acquire a tremendous amount of energy. To worship such an idol meticulously observing all the norms of ritualistic worship throughout the year would be a difficult task as one would have to follow the restrictions of ritualistic worship (karmakanda).
Hence, a new idol is installed to invoke the Ganesha frequencies and is then immersed. The proportion of sattva, raja and tama components in Ganapati frequencies is 5:5:5 while that in an average person is 1:3:5. This makes it difficult for an average person to receive Ganesha frequencies for a long time.
Making an idol from china clay or mud
One should prepare the Ganesh idol from china clay or mud. Nowadays, idols are made from plaster of Paris so that they become light weight and more attractive. There is a difference between idols made from mud and plaster of Paris. There are references in the Purans (mythological texts) that Ganapati was created from grime. Hence it is appropriate to use a Ganesh idol made of mud for ritualistic worship. The pure spiritual particles (pavitraks) of Ganapati get attracted to a greater extent towards an idol made of mud than to that made of plaster of Paris.
Sculpting an idol is superior to using a mould
Nowadays, idol making houses have taken the form of a vocation to earn money rather than considering it to be a holy mission or art. The Ganesh idols are made using a mould so that they can be made available for sale faster, merely keeping a commercial angle. However as far as possible, a readymade mould should not be used. The reasons for this are as follows. When making the idol manually, idol makers get an excellent opportunity to exhibit their artistic skill and consequently they obtain satisfaction. Besides, sculpting the idol generates more spiritual emotion (bhav) in the sculptor and such an idol is more sattvik (sattva predominant). From a sculptor’s viewpoint, the amount of spiritual emotion generated when sculpting the idol is more important than making the idol artistic and attractive. Hence as far as possible idol makers should make idols manually. Sanatan’s perspective too is ‘Art for God realisation and not merely art for the sake of art or as business’.
Idol should be a seated one, not standing
If a guest pays a visit, we offer him a seat and not keep him standing. During Ganesh Chaturthi, we invoke Lord Ganapati, that is invite Him. One should offer Him a seat and proper hospitality. Harbouring the spiritual emotion (bhav) that Lord Ganapati has actually come to visit us. Besides due to the entire weight of the idol resting on the feet, the idol may even break if it is kept in the standing position for ten consecutive days. Hence one should make an idol which is seated on a wooden seat (pat).
ganananh tva ganapatim havamahe kavim kavinam–upamashravastamam jyeshhtharajam brahmanan.h brahmanaspata A nah shrivnvannutibhih sida sadanam
(Rig Veda 2.23.1)
We invoke You, O Ganapati of the ganas (Lord Shiva attendants), Who are Brahmana-spati of the brahmas (prayers), the wisest among the wise, Who abound in treasure beyond all measure, the most brilliant one. Do listen to our prayers, come with Your blessings and assurances of protection into our home, and be seated. (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)
Sit down among the worshippers, O Ganapati, the best sage among the sages. Without You nothing can be done here or far. Accept with honor, O wealthy One, our great and variegated hymns of praise. (Rig Veda 10.112.9)