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Celebrating the Birth of Lord Ganesha (Ganesh Chaturthi)

Lord Ganesha is worshipped on this day for the removal of obstacles, for new beginnings, wisdom, prosperity, and good fortune. Read this article for auspicious time & procedure to perform the Puja, sacred verses to chant, legends, & the science behind the prohibition of Moon sighting on Ganesh Chaturthi.

Ganesh Chaturthi
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha. It is regarded as the day when he descended from Mount Kailash with his mother, Goddess Parvati. Hence, he is worshipped on this day for the removal of obstacles, new beginnings, wisdom, prosperity, and good fortune. Lord Ganesha was born on Shukla Paksha of Bhadrapada month, which mostly falls in the month of August or September by the English calendar.

How is this festival celebrated?

A festive day, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated and observed by installing the Lord’s clay idols at homes and also in public, at temporary stages put up by devotees. Mantras (sacred verses) are chanted, prayers and flowers offered, and ‘prasad’ – which is essentially devotional offering blessed by the Lord – is distributed. The ‘prasad’ includes sweets like Modak and Laddoo. At a few places the festivities continue for ten days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi with Ganesha Visarjan – an act that marks the immersing of Ganesha’s idol in water, signifying his departure to his abode in heaven. Devotees dance and take out procession on streets accompanied by music and when they immerse the Lord’s idol in the water, they pray to him to come and visit their place next year.

Ganesha Sthapana (Installation of Idol)

It is believed that Lord Ganesha was born at Madhyahna, i.e., Midday. As per Hindu division system, the time duration is split into five equal parts. These parts are spread over sunrise to sunset and are known as Pratahkala, Sangava, Madhyahna, Aparahna, and Sayankala. Ganesha Sthapana and Puja on Ganesh Chaturthi are done during Madhyahna, which is considered to be the most appropriate time for Ganesh Puja.

Muhurta (Auspicious Time)

Ganesha Puja
31 August 2022, Wednesday
11:05 am to 1:38 pm

Ganesh Visarjan
9 September 2022

What does ‘Chaturthi’ mean?

Chaturthi implies a state beyond that of awakened (Jagruti), dreaming (Swapna) and deep sleep (Sushupti). Hence, it is also referred to as Turyavastha or the transcendent state. Reaching ‘chaturthi’ is the goal of a seeker. The chaturthi of the bright fortnight, i.e., the fourth day of the waning moon (lunar phase) of each month is called ‘Vinayaki’ and that of the dark fortnight is called ‘Sankashti’. If this chaturthi falls on a Tuesday, it is called ‘Angarika Chaturthi’. During Vinayaki, one should observe fast and pray to Lord Siddhi Vinayak for good health, happiness and prosperity. The dark fortnight which is called Sankashti means calamity. This is the time when earth emits negative energies at its highest level and Lord Ganesha, being the remover of negative forces, should be prayed for well-being.
  • Observe fast for the whole day and pray to Lord Ganesha by offering him his favourite sweets, Modak and Laddoo.
  • The Deity of this fast (‘vrat’) is Shri Vighnavinayak.
  • Pay obeisance to the Moon by offering water and flowers.
  • Break the fast.
Angarika Chaturthi corresponds to ‘Angarak’, another name for Mars.  Shri Ganapati is the presiding Deity of Mars, as well as Earth. Both Shri Ganapati and Mars have the same complexion. If you pray to Lord Ganesha during this day, the negativity of the planetary alignment of Mars, Earth and Moon during this day gets destroyed. It is an observance which lasts five ‘prahars’ (unit of time), four during the day and one at night. According to the ritual, a meal should be taken at moonrise and it is considered part of the ritual, not as breaking the fast.

The story of Ganesh Chaturthi

Goddess Parvati was the creator of Lord Ganpati or Ganesha. She, in the absence of Lord Shiva, used her sandalwood paste to create Ganesha and gave him the task of guarding the entrance while she went for her bath. Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati’s husband, arrived shortly and Ganesha refused entry to him as his mother had instructed that nobody should be allowed in. Lord Shiva cut off Ganesha's head in a rage. When Parvati saw what happened, she assumed the form of Goddess Kali and threatened to destroy the world. When everyone saw her rage and form, they hurried to Lord Shiva and requested him to find a solution.

Shiva immediately ordered his followers to go find a child whose mother wasn’t attentive to the child and bring the head. The first child the followers saw was that of an elephant and they, as ordered, severed his head and brought it to Lord Shiva, who right away placed the head on Ganesha's body, bringing him back to life. Maa Kali was thus calmed and Goddess Parvati took over, overwhelmed. All the Lords blessed Ganesha and Ganesh Chaturthi is also celebrated as a tribute to this story.

Why is Moon sighting prohibited on Ganesh Chaturthi?

Legend goes that when Lord Ganesha was returning home on his vehicle (‘vahana’), which is a mouse, on a moonlit night on Chaturthi in the Bhadrapada month, the Moon God poked fun at the Lord's round belly and his vahana. This upset Lord Ganesha and he cursed the Moon God by saying that his light would never fall on earth.

Fearing that his existence was stake, the Moon God apologised. But since Ganesha had already cursed him, he wouldn't nullify it entirely and thus ended up saying that sighting the moon on Chaturthi would amount to ‘Mithya Dosha’ which is as good as a curse. It is believed that Mithya Dosha subjects one to false accusation of stealing as well as humility and poverty.

Shri Krishna is also supposed to have suffered from the effects of Mithya Dosha after he saw the moon on Chaturthi. He was accused of stealing the precious gem Syamantaka. Sage Narada, who knew about Lord Ganesha's curse asked Shri Krishna to observe a fast to come out of Mithya Dosha unaffected.

Mantra (sacred verses) to overcome the ill-effects of Mithya Dosha
सिंहः प्रसेनमवधीत्सिंहो जाम्बवता हतः।
सुकुमारक मारोदीस्तव ह्येष स्यमन्तकः॥
Simhah Prasenamavadhitsimho Jambavata Hatah।
Sukumaraka Marodistava Hyesha Syamantakah॥

What is the science behind this prohibition?
In the planetary system, the moon is fickle, that is to say - it undergoes phases of waxing and waning. Likewise, our mind – since our thought process is controlled by the Moon - is fickle. During Chaturthi ‘tithi’ (a time duration), which occurs in fourth day of waxing Moon, the Sun, Moon and Earth are in such angles that the moonlight which falls on earth is negatively charged.

Seeing the Moon in such a condition increases the fickleness of the mind by 1/1,00,000 times. Also, on this day, there can be hormonal imbalance in your body, which creates a high level of stress. So, to negate stress to a certain level, it is said to observe fast and avoid the sighting of Moon during the fourth day of waxing Moon.

Ganesh Chaturthi Puja Procedure

On Ganesha Chaturthi, devotees also perform ‘Eka Vinshati Name Ganesh Puja’ and ‘Lord Ganesha Anga Puja’ along with the below Shodashopachara Puja, i.e., worshipping the Gods and Goddesses with 16 rituals to bring prosperity and abundance.


Avahana (आवाहन) - Invocation: Puja should begin with the invocation of Lord Ganesha. One should chant the following mantra in front of Lord Ganesha’s idol, while being in ‘Avahan Mudra’ (this ‘mudra’ or hand gesture is formed by joining both palms and folding both thumbs inward) and the following mantra is chanted.
 
He Heramba Tvamehyehi Hyambikatryambakatmaja।
Siddhi-Buddhi Pate Tryaksha Lakshalabha Pituh Pitah॥
Nagasyam Nagaharam Tvam Ganarajam Chaturbhujam।
Bhushitam Svayudhaudavyaih Pashankushaparashvadhaih॥
Avahayami Pujartham Rakshartham Cha Mam Kritoh।
Ihagatya Grihana Tvam Pujam Yagam Cha Raksha Me॥
Om Siddhi-Buddhi Sahitaya Shri Mahaganadhipataye Namah।
Avahayami-Sthapayami॥

Pratishthapan (प्रतिष्ठापन) - Bringing Life to the Idol: After Lord Ganesha has been invoked, his energy is invoked in the idol with the following mantra.
 
Asyai Pranah Pratishthantu Asyai Pranaksharantu Cha।
Asyai Devatvamarchayai Mamaheti Cha Kashchana॥
Om Siddhi-Buddhi Sahitaya Shri Mahaganadhipataye Namah।
Supratishtho Varado Bhava॥
 
Asana Samarpan (आसन समर्पण) – Offering Seat: After Lord Ganesha has been invoked and installed, take five flowers in ‘Anjali’ (by joining palm of both hands) and leave them in front of the idol as an offering of seat to him.

Padya Samarpan (पाद्य समर्पण) – Washing of Feet: After offering Asana to Lord Ganesha, offer him water to wash his feet.

Arghya Samarpan (अर्घ्य समर्पण) – Offering Water: After offering Padya Samarpan, offer scented water to Lord Ganesha.

Achamana (आचमन) – Purificatory Act: This involves sipping of water while reciting Mantras to purify one’s body and mind.

Snana (स्नान) – Offering Water for Bath: This step involves offering water to Lord Ganesha for bath.

  • Panchamrita Snana (पञ्चामृत स्नान): In this ritual, a mixture of five elements - milk, curd, honey, ghee, and sugar are poured on the idol of Shri Ganesha as symbolic of a bath.
  • Dudha Snana (दूध स्नान): Bathe Lord Ganesha with milk (‘dudha’).

  • Dahi Snana (दही स्नान): Bathe Lord Ganesha with curd (‘dahi’).

  • Ghrita Snana (घृत स्नान): Bathe Lord Ganesha with ghee (‘ghrita’).

  • Madhu Snana (मधु स्नान): Bathe Lord Ganesha with honey (‘madhu’).

  • Sharkara Snana (शर्करा स्नान): Bathe Lord Ganesha with sugar (‘sharkara’).

  • Suvasita Snana (सुवासित स्नान): Bathe Lord Ganesha with scented oil.

  • Shuddhodaka Snana (शुद्धोदक स्नान): Bathe Lord Ganesha with pure or holy water (Gangajal).

Vastra Samarpan and Uttariya Samarpan (वस्त्र समर्पण वं उत्तरीय समर्पण) – Offering of Clothes: Vastra Samarpan is the offering of ‘Moli’ (cotton thread roll) as new clothes to Lord Ganesha. After that, Uttariya Samarpan is performed to offer clothes for upper body to Lord Ganesha.

Yajnopavita Samarpan (यज्ञोपवीत समर्पण) – offering of Sacred Thread: After Vastra offering, offer sacred thread (‘Yajnopavita’) to Lord Ganesha.

Gandha (गन्ध) – Offering of Scent: After Yajnopavita Samparpan, offer scent to Lord Ganesha.

Akshata (अक्षत) – Offering of Rice: After Gandha offering, offer Akshata (whole or unbroken rice) to Lord Ganesha.

Pushpa Mala, Shami Patra, Durvankura, Sindoor (पुष्प माला, शमी पत्र, दुर्वाङ्कुर, सिन्दूर) – Offering of four items: Pushpa Mala (garland of flowers), Shami Patra (a species of flowering tree in the pea family), Durvankura (special grass with three or five blades), and Sindoor (vermilion) are offered to the Lord.

Dhoop (धूप) – offering of Incense: The next step is to offer incense to Lord Ganesha.

Deep Samarpan (दीप समर्पण) – Offering of a lamp: Lord Ganesha is then offered a lamp (‘deep’) while chanting Mantras.

Naivedya and Karodvartan (नैवेद्य एवं करोद्वर्तन) – Offering of Sacred Food and Sandalwood: Offer fruits and food like modak, laddoo, etc. to Lord Ganesha, followed by a mix of sandalwood (‘chandan’) and water.

Tambula, Narikela and Dakshina Samarpan (ताम्बूल, नारिकेल एवं दक्षिणा समर्पण) – Offering of three items: The next step is to offer betelnut (‘tambula’), coconut (‘narikela’) and an honorarium (‘dakshina’) to the Lord.

Neerajan and Visarjan (नीराजन एवं विसर्जन) – Final Offering and Submersion: As a final rite, perform Lord Ganesha Aarti (ceremony of lights) while chanting the following Mantra.

Kadali Garbha Sambhutam Karpuram Tu Pradipitam।
Arartikamaham Kurve Pashya Me Varado Bhava॥
Om Siddhi-Buddhi Sahitaya Shri Mahaganadhipataye Namah।
Karpura Neerajanam Samarpayami॥

Post this, offer ‘pushpanjali’ (flowers) to Lord Ganesha and then his idol is immersed in water as a symbol of starting his journey towards his abode in heaven. The following Mantra is chanted during Visarjan.

 
Avahanam Na Janami Na Janami Tavarchanam।
Pujam Chaiva Na Janami Kshamasva Ganeshwara॥
Anyatha Sharanam Nasti Tvameva Sharanam Mam।
Tasmatkarunya Bhavena Rakshasva Vighneshwara॥
Gatam Papam Gatam Dukham Gatam Daridraya Meva Cha।
Agata Sukha Sampattih Punyachcha Tava Darshanat॥
Mantrahinam Kriyahinam Bhaktihinam Sureshwara।
Yatpujitam Maya Deva Paripurnam Tadastu Me॥
Yadaksharapada Bhrashtam Matrahinam Cha Yadbhavet।
Tatsarva Kshamyatam Deva Prasida Parameshwara॥