Why fast on Sankatahara Chaturthi ?
Fasting on Sankatahara Chaturthi is considered very auspicious and extremely beneficial. Usually it is recommended to take up this vratam for a period of One year and observe fasting on all the Sankatahara Chaturthi days and will end it by performing “Maha Ganapathi Homam” or “Vaancha Kalpa Ganapathy Homan”.
By doing this, it is believed that all the difficult tasks will be accomplished and the obstacles will be removed from one’s life.
How to observe fast on Sankatahara Chaturthi
The devotees should observe Sankatahara Chaturthi by having a complete fast which will be broken after observing the moon rise, followed by a puja to Lord Ganesha. Some devotees go for partial fast. If you observe partial fast you can eat fruits or Sabudhana Khichadi during brunch breaks. Partial fasting is recommended for people who are employed, since it will be difficult to observe complete fasting without feeling exhausted in your work.
Chaturthi Morning Puja
- Take bath early in the morning and offer a simple prayer to Lord Ganesha by chanting one of his famous Ganesha slokas (vakrathunda mahakaya.. surya kodi samaprabha..)
- Light a lamp with Ghee. Beginners can consider reciting the 108 names of Ganesha instead of complex slokas, which may discourage you from continuing the fasting. Starting with light and easy slokas in the beginning and proceeding into complex slokas is a practical method to cultivate the habit of vratam.
- Sankatahara Ganapathy Stotra can be said three times in the puja or in multiples of three. Number THREE is dear to Ganesha. Commence your fasting soon after the morning puja.
- The evening puja is performed after the sunset and when you can witness the moon.
- At times it becomes tricky to spot the moon, if the sky is clouded. So some refer to Almanac or Panchang to know the Moon-rise time for that particular day. But reading an almanac (panchang) requires some practice and it will be overwhelming for a beginner. So if you are just beginning to observe this fast, perform your evening puja approximately around 7.30pm.
- After seeing the moon, do a quick chanting of Ganesh Slokas similar to your morning prayers. Pray to a photo or statue of Lord Ganesh in your puja room. Although I personally find making a ganapathy pyramid (ganapathy cone) out of turmeric powder everyday and praying to that more serene & auspicious.
- The lamp should be lit using Ghee or Coconut oil. Offer banana or Coconut or milk along with flowers to Ganesha. If you are performing this vrata for the good of your loved ones, it is recommended that you offer the coconut or banana or milk as prasadham to them and other family members. Symbolically consuming a prasadham from a puja is considered essential to complete one’s prayers. It is also viewed as divine blessings from Ganesha.
- Some of the special materials that you can offer in the puja are Dhruva grass (Arugampil in Tamil) , Stuffed coconut balls ( the most famous Kozhukattai (tamil) ) or any salad prepared from pulses (Sundal ). These prasadhams are not mandatory for everyday puja. But including one of them in your puja and distributing them to your family members and friends in your apartment will give you untold encouragement to continue the fast.