Ganesh Chaturthi, the great Ganesh festival, also known as 'Vinayak Chaturthi' or 'Vinayaka Chavithi' is celebrated by around the world as the birthday of Lord Ganesh.
Shree Ganesh, the son of Shiva and Parvati, who bestow his presence on earth for all his devotees in the duration of this festival. Shree Ganesh who is the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.
It is observed during the Hindu month of Bhadra (mid-August to mid-September) and the grandest and most elaborate of them, especially in the western India state of Maharashtra, lasts for 10 days, ending on the day of 'Ananta Chaturdashi'.
The Grand Celebration
A life-like clay model of Lord Ganesha is made 2-3 months prior to the day of Ganesh Chaturthi. The size of this idol may vary from 3/4th of an inch to over 25 feet.
On the day of the festival, it is placed on raised platforms in homes or in elaborately decorated outdoor tents for people to view and pay their homage. The priest, usually clad in red silk dhoti and shawl, then invokes life into the idol amidst the chanting of mantras. This ritual is called 'pranapratishhtha'. After this the 'shhodashopachara' (16 ways of paying tribute) follows. Coconut, jaggery, 21 'modakas' (rice flour preparation), 21 'durva' (trefoil) blades and red flowers are offered. The idol is anointed with red unguent or sandal paste (rakta chandan). Throughout the ceremony, Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda and Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, and Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted.
For 10 days, from Bhadrapad Shudh Chaturthi to the Ananta Chaturdashi, Ganesha is worshipped. On the 11th day, the image is taken through the streets in a procession accompanied with dancing, singing, to be immersed in a river or the sea symbolizing a ritual see-off of the Lord in his journey towards his abode in Kailash while taking away with him the misfortunes of all man. All join in this final procession shouting "Ganapathi Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya" (O father Ganesha, come again early next year). After the final offering of coconuts, flowers and camphor is made, people carry the idol to the river to immerse it.
The whole community comes to worship Ganesha in beautifully done tents. These also serve as the venue for free medical checkup, blood donation camps, charity for the poor, dramatic performances, films, devotional songs, etc. during the days of the festival.
On the Ganesh Chaturthi day, meditate on the stories connected with Lord Ganesha early in the morning, during the Brahmamuhurta period. Then, after taking a bath, go to the temple and do the prayers of Lord Ganesha. Offer Him some coconut and sweet pudding. Pray with faith and devotion that He may remove all the obstacles that you experience on the spiritual path. Worship Him at home, too. You can get the assistance of a pundit. Have an image of Lord Ganesha in your
house. Feel His Presence in it.
Don’t forget not to look at the moon on that day; remember that it behaved unbecomingly towards the Lord. This really means avoid the company of all those who have no faith in God, and who deride God, your Guru and religion, from this very day.
Take fresh spiritual resolves and pray to Lord Ganesha for inner spiritual strength to attain success in all your undertakings.
May the blessings of Sri Ganesha be upon you all! May He remove all the obstacles that stand in your spiritual path! May He bestow on you all material prosperity as well as liberation!
Shree Ganesh Mantra
Lord Ganesh has the unique distinction that his name is always invoked before any other God's name in any prayer service. Lord Ganesh received this distinction as a blessing from his parents, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Lord Ganesa is designated as the chief (-eesha) of all of Lord Shiva's ganas (servers) - hence his name, Ganesh. We begin with an invocation to Lord Ganesh - he of the single tusk, whose vehicle is the mouse and he who penned the Mahabharata with his own hands.
vakratunda mahaakaaya suryakoti samaprabhaa nirvighnam kurumedeva sarvakaaryeshu sarvadaa
Salutations to the supreme Lord Ganesh, whose curved trunk (vakra-tunda) and massive body (maha-kaayaa) shines like a million suns (surya-koti) and showers his blessings on everyone (sama-prabhaa). Oh my lord of lords Ganesh (kurume-deva), kindly remove all obstacles (nir-vighnam), always (sarva-) and forever (sarvadaa-) from all my activities and endeavors (sarva-kaaryeshu).
> Vakratunda Ganesha Mantra audio mp3 (118K) This is an extract of the invocation to Lord Ganesh from a track on the Chants of India CD by Ravi Shankar.
Prayer for Prosperity to Lord Ganesh (Shubh Laabh Mantra)
AUM shrim gam saubhaagya ganpataye varvard sarvajanm me.n vaShamaanya namH
The prayer for prosperity is based on the word, gam, which is the beej (seed) mantra for Lord Ganesh. We ask for good fortune (sau-bhaagya) and many blessings and wishes (var-vard) for our current and future life-times (sarva-janam-me.n). We bow in homage (namH) to Lord Ganesh who protects us with long lives (avaShamaanya) of health and happiness. A concise form of this mantra, suitable for multiple rapid repetitions is simply - "Aum gam Ganpataye Namh" - (ॐ गम गणपतये नम:)
> Shubh Laabh Ganesha Mantra audio mp3 (200K) This is a beautiful rendition of the short version of the Shubh Laabh Mantra in mp3 format by Pandit Jasraaj.
Ganesh Gayatri Mantras
The Ganesh Gayatris are prayers to Lord Ganesh that are composed in the 24-syllable meter of the original Gayatri Mantra. Several variations of the Gayatri can be composed by invoking the various descriptive names of Ganesh in the appropriate place(s) of the original mantra.
AUM tadapurushhaaya viddhamahe, vakratundaaya dhimahi, tanno danti prachodayaath
We pray to the supreme and perfect male (tadapurusḥāya) who is omnipresent (viddhamahe). We meditate upon and pray for greater intellect (dhīmahi) to the Lord with the curved, elephant-shaped trunk (vakratunḍāya). We bow before the one with the single-tusked elephant tooth (tanno danti) to illuminate our minds with wisdom (prachodayāt).
AUM ekadantaaya viddhamahe, vakratunDaaya dhimahi, tanno danti prachodayaath
We pray to the one with the single-tusked elephant tooth (ekadantāya) who is omnipresent (viddhamahe). We meditate upon and pray for greater intellect (dhīmahi) to the Lord with the curved, elephant-shaped trunk (vakratunḍāya). We bow before the one with the single-tusked elephant tooth (tanno danti) to illuminate our minds with wisdom (prachodayāt).
AUM lambodaraaya viddhamahe, mahodaraaya dhImahi, tanno danti prachodayaath
We pray to the one with the expandable belly (lambodarāya) who is omnipresent (viddhamahe). We meditate upon and pray for greater intellect (dhīmahi) to the Lord with the huge belly (mahodarāya). We bow before the one with the single-tusked elephant tooth (tanno danti) to illuminate our minds with wisdom (prachodayāt).