Ritual Worship, Vows, Fasts Connected with Lord Ganesh
(i) The Varad Chaturthi Day:
The Tales Related to the Ganesh Chaturthi
(a) Story of Ganesh chaturthi
(b) Kuntis Worship
(c) The Celebrations in Maharashtra
(d) The Spiritual Significance of the Chaturthi Day
(iii) Sankashthi Chaturthi
(iv) Angaarak Chaturthi
(v) Ganesh Parthiva Pooja Vrata
(vi) Twenty One Days' Ganesh Vrata
(vii) Tila Chaturthi Vrata
(viii) Doorba Ganapati Vrata
(ix) Vat Ganesh Vrata
(x) Kapardi Vinayak Vrata
" Ganapati bappa morya
Mangal moorti morya "
Such are the slogans that fill the air. The meaning of this slogan is :
"Father Ganapati, come again
Auspicious one, come again."
And amidst the clash of gongs and cymbals, a crowd maddened in the religious fervour chants such slogans. This is the common spectacle in the streets of Bombay and other towns of Maharashtra amidst the Bhadrapad month (Aug-Sept) after the Fourth Day of the bright half.
Although the Fourth Day of the bright half of every lunar month is believed to be the day of Lord Ganesh, the Magh (Jan-Feb.), Bhadrapad (Aug-Sept) and the full moon day of Vaishaakh are held to be the special days for Lord Ganesha's worship.
Lord Ganesh is Mangalmoorti, Vighneshwar and the Ganapati-that is, the Lord is the personification of all that is auspicious, the Lord of all the troubles and the head of all the 'Ganas'. All these days, if observed with full ritual worship and full faith definitely ensure welfare of the devotees and grants their desires-so declare the Shastras or the scriptures. The special days dedicated to Lord Ganesh have their special names and significance, which have been discussed below:
(i) The Varad Chaturthi Day:
According to the Ganesh Purana, this vow or the fast should begin from the Fourth Day of the bright half of the lunar month Shravan (about mid July to mid Aug.). After cleaning oneself by the daily ablutions, the devotee should massage his entire body with the paste made from the til (sesame) and Aanwala 1 powder mixed in a little of water. The process is to rub this paste gently on one's entire body and then allow it to become a little dry. Then peel off the flakes of filth by rubbing it gently by your hand. Having rubbed off the entire paste this way, the devotee should take bath with pure water while concentrating all the time on the auspicious visage of Lord Ganesh.
Then select a clean pious and private spot in your house and erect a beautiful canopy (Mandap). Place a bronze pitcher in the middle after covering it with two clean pieces of red cloth. Then draw a symbol of lotus flower on the body of the pitcher. The flower must be shown having eight petals. The drawing should be made by the paste of saffron or sandalwood. Now keep a wooden pedestal (chauki) there and place an idol of Lord Ganesh made of clay or silver. The bronze-pitcher should be placed upon the ground already littered with the grains of some cereal. Now place a Kushasan or a red carpet before the pitcher and sit on it, concentrating on all the names of Lord Ganesh and chanting them with full devotion. The devotee should say:
Om Ganeshaya namah
Om Dhundhirajaya namah
Om Herambaya namah
Om Vakratundaya namah
Om Shoorpakaranaya namah
Om Vighneshaya namah
Om Gajanananay namah
Om Lambodariiya namah
Om Ekdantiiyah namah
Om Vinayakayah namah
Om Vikatiiya namah
Om Kapilaya namah
Om Ashapoorkaya namah
Om Dhoomraketiive namah
Om Mohavarjitiiya namah
Om Sarvananda-vaskarkaya namah.
The pooja is offered with 'Doorba' (twig of grass) and sandalwood paste by reciting his all names. The use of Tulsi or basil leaves during Ganesh-worship is prohibited. One should always remember that Lord Ganesh's favorite no. is Twenty One (21). Hence offering should be made by 21 things having predominantly white colour or green colour. These offerings could be made by twenty one variety of flowers, fruits or other pious things. The flowers should be offered to the idols with its flowery head up and not upside down. The sindoor or vermilion powder, wetted with a drop of water and having little rice grain, should be applied on the idol's head, forehead; neck, the heart region and while chanting loudly "Om Gananathaya namah"; a mark of the vermilion should be made between the eyes of the idol, just above the nose. The priest (in case the devotee himself cannot perform these functions devotedly) and the devotee should contemplate on the one god who has only one tusk, whose ears are wide like a winnowing basket, who has 'naga' (snake) worn like the sacred thread, and who wields in his hands a snare and a goad or hamulus.
On this day the devotee should keep fast and listen to the glorious doings of the Lord by an able and learned person. On this day observation of total continence, lying on the ground and eating only fruits, 'pedas' (a sweet meat made of milk) and milk are some of the commands ordained by the scriptures. This fast and vow should be continued till the Fourth Day of Bhadrapad Shukla (bright half). On the Fifth day after the ritual worship the idol or 'Yantra' should be immersed in thy pious waters. On the day of the 'Immersion' the young maidens and brahmans should be fed: This vow is especially recommended for anyone desiring to have his some cherished wish fulfilled.
The fourth day of the bright half of every lunar month is called Siddhi Vinayaki Chaturthi. The fourth day of Bhadrapad Shukla (bright half) Chaturthi is known as Mahasiddhi Vinayaki Chaturthi. When this fourth day falls on Tuesday or Saturday it is termed as Varad Chaturthi or Shivaa Chaturthi and its importance gets enhanced. On this auspicious day a beautiful idol of Lord Ganesh should remade of clay or some metal like silver. Now this idol shou1d be installed on a high pedestal with its face facing east—west or north. Having anointed the idol with sandalwood or saffron paste and invoking the Lord for the 'Pran-pratishtha' (consecration), offerings with 21 objects should be kept ready, which should include Patri (leaves), Kewra (pamdames), Shamee (a kind of tree leaves), white flowers (lily), Durba (grass twigs), red sandalwood, sindoor (red vermilion powder), panchamrita (a potion made from mixing milk, curd, honey, sugar and water) and the leaves of Tulsi or basil etc. One must remember that basil leaves or Tulsidal are permitted in the Lord's worship only on this day, and not on other days. Now, after seating yourself on the Kushasan (a small mattress made by the weed called Kusha), you should invoke the Lord and complete the worship as mentioned earlier. Then perform the Mahabhishek (Grand Anointing Ceremony) by Panchamrita etc., and sing the 'Aarti' of the Lord with a lighted lamp waving in your hand before the Lord's idol. Then the oblation of Durba, flowers etc. should be offered to the Lord. After this religiously move around the Lord seven times in anti-clockwise direction and lie with hand and feet fully stretched on the ground with face facing the ground to salute the Lord. This sort of special salutation is called Sashtang Namaskar'. 2 Then 21 Laddoos should be offered as the Lord's symbolic food or the 'Prasadam' which should be distributed to as many devotees as possible. It is said in scriptures that 'Prasadam' should be distributed to the greatest number of persons possible with each getting as little of the share as to have it totally absorbed or digested by the eater's body and there should not be any refuse left out of it after digestion.
Having made the offering, the following 'Mantra' (incantation) should be recited:
Ganadhipa namasteastu Umaputraghanashana
Ekdantabhaktreti tatha mooshak vahana
Vinayakesha putreti sarva siddhi pradayaka
Kumar gurve tubhyam poojaneeyah prayatnatah
[I bow to the head of Ganas, the Destroyer of all sin, the son of Uma (parvati), who has One Tusk and Elephant-Face and the mouse as His vehicle. 0 Supreme Leader, who grants the boon of son and every desire, whose elder brother is Kumar (Kartikeya)-this way I endeavor to worship thee!)
The proper time for the performance is mid-day, as ordained by the Celestial Priest Brihaspati (quoted in 'Kalanirnaya')
Depending upon one's capacity one should keep fast for two to twenty one days observing the strict vows already explained and then after the ritual worship, the idol of the Lord should be immersed in the holy waters of a tank, river or sea.
The Tales Related to the Ganesh Chaturthi
(a) Story of Ganesh chaturthi
On this pious day viewing the moon is prohibited. In this connection there is a legend in the Ganesh Purana. It is said that once the Lord was going upon his vehicle, the mouse, when he fell down. No one except the moon could see him fall. Seeing the heavy-bodied god falling from his tiny vehicle, the moon let out a loud guffaw, to the great annoyance and indignation of the Lord. Enraged the Lord cursed the moon that henceforth no one would watch the moon. The moon, realizing his committing a sacrilege-like offence, besought the Lord to pardon him. When the luminary-god repeatedly apologized the Lord, he modified his curse and limited it to only the Chaturthi day. He said: "If one views you on this day he shall be held responsible for an offence not committed by him: That is, one may be falsely held responsible for an offence.
The Puranas and the Mahabharata record that Lord Krishna was falsely held responsible for stealing the 'Syamantak Mani' (A very rare gem) when he had seen the moon on this day. 3 Then Lord Krishna had offered a method of redemption by saying that one should chant the following Shloka:
Sinha Prasenamvadheeta Sinho Jambavata hatah I
Sukumarak ma rodeestva hyeshah Syamantakah II
Chanting the Shloka the person who sees the moon on the Chaturthi Day should drink water and hear the story about this gem Syamantak.
(b) Kuntis Worship
On the Ganesh Chaturthi day all the ladies desirous of the welfare of their sons and family especially worship Lord Ganesh's symbol, the Elephant The mother of the Pandavas, Kunti, also wanted to worship an elephant and she told her sons, who were still living jointly with the Kauravas in the palace of Hastinapur, to fetch an elephant for her. Similarly Gandhari, the mother of the 100 Kauravs, asked her sons to get an elephant for her. The Kauravas, being more in numbers and hence more resourceful, got the best elephant available in the area.
Meanwhile, the Pandavas also went in Search of a robust elephant but couldn't get the desired one. Since the time of worship was drawing close, Kunti was worried. Then Arjun, her third son and the most renowned archer, offered a solution. He said: "Don't worry, mother? I am sending a message to the chief of gods, Indra, to send his favourite elephant, Airavat, so that you may worship him." Now, this elephant, Airavat is supposed to be the best among the elephants, as this elephant was also one of the gifts that the Ocean gave when it was churned, by the gods and the demons. Kunti was delighted to hear her son's audacious offer. "But, dear son, how will that heavy elephant land on this earth from heaven ?" she asked worriedly. "Don't worry, Mother!" replied Arjun confidently: "I will see to it that Airavat comes here to make you worship him on this pious day."
And then Arjun wrote the message on a piece of paper and fixing that piece to the head of his arrow, he pulled at his bow and sent the arrow heavenwards.
Indra, whose psychic son was Arjun, readily agreed to the proposal but sent the message back saying: "There is no ladder by which my vehicle, Airavat, could come down from the heaven to oblige your mother. Arrange a passage."
Getting this message, Arjun saw the elephant peeping through a cloud crack and ready to come down. So with his expertise in archery, he began to form a ladder made by the arrows he was shooting. But the elephant was heavy and his massive step used to crush hundreds of arrows. But Arjun would fill the gap by more arrows than that elephant could break. At last he succeeded in making the huge elephant reach ground Then Kunti, delighted, happily worshipped that grand symbol of Ganesh.
All these tales indicate the great significance attached to the worship of Lord Ganesh on this day, the Fourth Day of the lunar (bright)month Bhadrapada. This day, the Puranas say that Lord Ganesh was born and when Lord Shiv had accepted Lord Ganesh as his son, he celebrated his son's birthday on this day at Kailash Mount, the abode of Lord Shiv. It was on this very day that Lord Ganesh had killed a demon called Sindoor. Hence this day is specially sacred to the devotees of Lord Ganesh. Ganesh Chaturthi is the avowed observance (vrata) of Siddhi- Vinayak. Although on this day the worship lasts for the entire day, the essential worship lasts for one and half hour during each of four or seven days or till even the Anant Chaturdashi (i.e. for 10 days). Thereafter, the image is immersed in the river, sea or tank whichever is nearer. On the day of "Visarjan" (immersion) the image or idol of Lord Ganesh is carried in a procession of the devotees through the streets of the town (especially in Maharashtra) crowded by enthusiastic watchers.
(c) The Celebrations in Maharashtra:
This is the special function day or the grandest festival of Maharashtra.
Almost each locality of every town and village has its own idol of Lord Ganesh specially made for the occasion. Although there are thousands of centres that make such idols, those built by the craftsmen of a small town Pen are rated higher. A Ganapati is brought and installed on a colourful painted plank. The grown-ups carry the plank themselves; the children strike the cymbals and, beat the gongs yelling lustily: "Ganapati bappa morya..." The Ganapati is brought home amidst great fanfare. Since the favorite idols are generally made of clay, special care is taken to carry the idol intact. No one will take the risk of being jostled by the crowd and dropping the idol, for a damaged Ganapati is considered very inauspicious.
Ganapati idols are, installed in homes on this day and worshipped. Though they vary in size they are similar in appearance. All of them have the deity seated. In front of God Ganapati is put a big 'thaal' (plate) containing modaks made of rice-flour and f1lled with jaggery, grated coconut, cardamom seeds and dried fruit. How long the Ganapati idol is kept at home depends on family tradition. It may be thirty six hours in some homes, in others it varies from five, seven to nine days, till Anant Chaturdashi.
When the idol is brought home it is installed in a specially decorated place. Children decorate their Ganapatis with colorful papers and string of colored lights. During the time Ganapati is kept at home, prayers are offered every morning and evening and Arti performed everyday. In some homes priests are asked to conduct the worship; in others members of the family do it themselves. It is customary to make offerings for twenty-one blades of grass, kewra (pandanus buds), a lotus flower and twenty-one modaks as 'prasadam.'
Besides the Ganapatis installed in homes, most localities also have their own community Ganapatis. These images are usually very large, sometimes almost twenty feet high. Since he has different manifestations in the Puranas, the Mahabharat and the Ramayana. he is represented in his multifarious activities. He may be depicted as Krishna, standing on the head of the snake 'Kaalia' or slaying the demon 'Keshi'. There is a belief that the kind and benevolent aspect of Ganapati is represented in every deity of the Hindu Pantheon. Though hundreds of images of Ganapati are made every year in the traditional form, new forms are invented to depict the current theme. One may not be surprised if one finds Ganapati landing on the moon or working on a computer!
It was Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak who made the ritual worship of Ganesh in Maharashtra almost a national festival. The festival is fondly called the 'Ganesh-Utsav. Tilak revived this festival to instill new faith in the people. He believed that when people got together to celebrate the festival, they would forget their internal differences and be united by goodwill.
Tilak also encouraged art and culture; he patronised cultural programmes in which well-known singers and promising musicians were invited. Poetry recitations by renowned poets .were organised and new and old plays staged. There were community hymn singing with 'bhajans' (devotional songs) and 'Kirtan' (group chanting or singing) followed by religious discourses. Though Tilak rejuvenated the festival celebration, the Ganesh Chaturthi has been performed since times immemorial in Maharashtra.
'Gauri (parvati) pooja' is also performed in many homes during these days of festivity and during the ten-day Ganesh festival. Domestic servants go dancing from house to house. This ritual starts on Janmashtami and continues till Anant Chaturdashi. After " Govinda aala re…… " they start rehearsing for " Ganapati bappa morya..... "
Ganesh Utsav is celebrated in villages as well as large cities. There also the Ganapati idol is installed preferably in some school or the house of headman of the village with great enthusiasm.
At long last comes Anant Chaturdashi. Elaborate preparations are made for the immersion ceremony. Some people accompanied by their relatives and friends, prefer to perform the immersion of Ganapati themselves. Others place their idols near the big images installed in public places. These are then mounted on decorated bullock carts and trucks. Children are allowed to clamber up behind them. The procession goes down the street striking cymbals and gongs and rending the air with " Ganapati bappa ... ". At the appointed place the truck and bullock-carts meet to form a larger procession. Every village and town has its own tradition regarding which of its many Ganapatis is to be given the honor of leading the procession. Usually pride of place is given to the idol from the oldest temple. It is carried in a palanquin. Choral groups. and drummers accompany the procession. They chant hymns while people watching from the roadside, shower coloured powder on them. And so with much fervor and enthusiasm the idols are immersed in the river, tank or sea usually at dusk-time. Then they raise a cry:
“Ganapati bappa morya!
Purhchya varshi laukar ya !" .
[0 Father Ganapati, return again early the following year ]
(d) The Spiritual Significance of the Chaturthi Day:
Chaturthi is the fourth digital phase of the waxing moon. The spiritualists believe that Amavasya or the moonless night is the period of hibernation of this luminary. When one wakes up from the deep slumber, one gets fully conscious in the fourth stage. These are 'Swapna', 'Swaap', 'Jagaran' and 'Chetana' which can be loosely rendered as the stage of dream, hangover, awakening and consciousness. It is in the fourth stage that one is fully conscious after getting up. In this stage one sees the world as it exists, sans any imagination or dream. Hence this is the stage when one's all senses are fully conscious and alert. This is also the stage when one can fully concentrate with total devotion. It is for this reason that those who are well versed in spiritualism recommend worship of Lord Ganesh. the first god to be worshipped, on the Chaturthi Day.
The prohibition to look at the moon on this day has also its spirituo-psychological explanation. The moon, as we all know. is believed to represent one's 'Man' -the mind or self. This is the traditional belief corroborated by psychologists and astrologers both. The man is not deemed fully conscious of the environment when he is introvert or looking more towards himself than outside. As explained earlier, the day of Chaturthi represents the fully conscious-stage of the mind. And one is fully conscious when one looks outside with his all senses. Hence looking towards your 'Man' or inside your sense is not recommended on this day for this tendency is conducive to induce sleep or dreaminess or imagination. When one is fully conscious one should look at the world to assess one's real position and rise to reality. Hence it is prohibited to look at the moon on the Chaturthi Day. All the myths created around this assertion. are owing to the inherent and dominant tendency of the Aryan brain. In fact all the recommendations of the Hindu religious belief originate because of this tendency. The Aryan brain was convinced that man would not accept the secular authority unless it has an aura of the supernatural woven around it. Since the very symbol of Ganesh is the creation of such a brain, all the myths around this symbol are created to make this symbol appear logical and convincing.
In fact, suppression of 'Man' or control of it is the basic burden of all the teachings of Sanatan Dharma whether they say it by the means of Puranas or Scriptures or the great treatise on human behaviour like Gita. This prohibition to look at the moon is a small corollary to the original and basic concept.
(iii) Sankashthi Chaturthi:
Sankashthi Chaturthi or just 'Sankashthi' means that fourth day of the moon's phase which occurs in the dark fortnight in every month.
This day assumes greater importance when this Chaturthi falls on Tuesday, when it is called Angarak Chaturthi. Otherwise any Chaturthi falling on any other day is called' Sankashthi'. Alternatively it is also called Vinayaki Chaturthi in some parts of India.
According to the Pauranic dictates on this day the devotee should keep fast and should break this fast on the next day ie on Panchami. During the fast, visit to a temple of Lord Ganesh, listening to the tales connected with Lord Ganesh's worship should be listened to with full devotion.
The Ganesh Puran extols the glory of this fast and says that one who keeps fast on this day has his all obstacles removed by the grace of Lord Ganesh and gets all his desires fulfilled. There are many legends mentioned in the same Puranas to extol the virtues of keeping fasts on Sankashthi Chaturthi. Sankashthi literally means end of the afflictions or distress. Some of the tales are mentioned below:
(a) Raja Kritveerya was a 'Shoodra' in his previous life and used to stoop to the meanest level to keep his family well-fed. One day he slayed a brahman named Sham in his attempt to extract some money from the brahman's pocket. Having killed the brahman, he returned home on the Magh (Dec.-Jan.) Chaturthi (dark half) day. As his good luck would have it, he had a son named Ganesh. Owing to his fighting with that brahman and caring for the safety of the money he had usurped, he had not eaten any thing that day. When reaching home, he called his son Ganesh. Since he was also badly wounded in his fight with the brahman, he expired as soon as he gave that money to his son. But since he had kept fast on that day out of sheer compulsion and called the name ‘Ganesh', his all sins were redeemed and in the next birth he got the birth in a king's house and later himself became the king Kritveerya. Although he was a powerful king in this life and had a devoted wife called Sugandha, the royal couple had one great shortcoming that they had no son. On the advice of the priests the couple performed many severe penance but in vain. Dejected, both of them had left their kingdom and repaired to jungle to waste away their life. When Narad saw them in that sorry state, he informed the king's departed father, residing in heaven, Brahmadeva who made Narad convey his message that the king should keep fast on the Sankashthi Day to get a son. The king, Kritveerya did so and had his wish fulfilled eventually.
The same Purana says that one should keep fast on this day with determination for one or twenty one years. It says that the merit of such a vow could make even the Destiny change its course to get the devotee his desired boon.
The procedure to start this Vrata is to begin it after morning ablutions and keep fast. On this day the aspirant should keep quiet and shun violence and dishonesty. On this day helping a distressed person gives additional merit. No intoxicating material should be consumed on this day. Remembering the twelve names of Lord Ganesh and doing his worship is recommended. In the evening before the rise of the moon, the aspirant should rub his body with the paste of Aanwala (Emblic mynobalan) and til (sesame seeds) powder and then after taking bath should perform the 'Ganesh-poojan' Chanting the 'sixteen mantras, 4 and with 21 earthen lamps, 21 flowers and 21 doorva (grass twigs). Then the aspirant should offer water to the rising moon and pray Lord Ganesh to grant his wish. Those who want their enemies to be slain or the troubles removed must have the 'Prasadam' of 21 laddoos out of which one 'laddoo' must be salty. Then ending the fast, one should eat those laddoos as his main food. The remainder of the laddoos should be fed to a cow. The 'Ganesh Porana' says that if the completion of the fast is accomplished under a 'Shami' tree then a blind man gets his vision restored, a dumb man speaks again and a lame gets power to walk unhampered.
When one gets one's desire fulfilled, the fast should-be continued even for five to seven months more. Only then the Cessation of the Fast (Udyapan) should take place.
(iv) Angaarak Chaturthi:
As explained earlier the Sankashtha Chaturthi becomes Angaarak Chaturthi when the Fourth Day of the moon falls, in the dark half, on the Tuesday. Then the Chaturthi Day has the added significance owing to its falling on the Tuesday. On this day strict vow should be observed. Glorifying the merit of the vow, the 'Ganesh Purana' gives an interesting story
When the sage Bharadwaj got a son from the earth, as red as the flower of 'Jaaruband', he gave him the name 'Bhaum' which literally means (the son) of the earth. When Bhaum came of age, sage Bharadwaj gave him 'The Ganesh Mantra' and explained the procedure to chant it. Then he asked Bhaum to go to the bank of river Narmada and chant the 'Mantra' observing total .continence and piety of the character. That was the 'Ekakshari Mantra, 5 which Bhaum chanted with total devotion. Seeing that great devotion and concentration of the boy Bhaum, Lord Ganesh was delighted and appeared before his devotee on Magh Krishna Chaturthi (Fourth Day of the lunar month Magh, ie. between January and February of the English or Gregorian Calendar, in the dark fortnight) and declared that he who does so on Angaarak Chaturthi will have his all enemies destroyed and troubles removed. The Lord also gave the boy Bhaum the right to imbibe the nectar churned out from the ocean, thus providing him the godhood. The Lord also declared that thenceforth Bhaum would be known by the name 'Mangal'. "Since you are the son of the earth and have red complexion, your one name shall be Angaraka." Hence the name Angarak Chaturthi given to the Chaturthi falling on the Tuesdays.
(v) Ganesh Parthiva pooja Vrata:
ParthivaPoojan means physical worship or the ritualistic worship of the deity. This pooja or worship is done by those who take a vow for the fulfillment of their some specific want Normally this worship lasts for a month. Traditionally this is started on Shravan Shukla Chaturthi (fourth day of the bright half of the lunar month Shravan ie., mid-July to mid-August) and ends on the Bhadrapad Shukla Chaturthi (fourth day of the lunar month Bhadrapad i.e., mid-August to mid-Sept.). On the appointed day the devotee or aspirant should complete his morning ablutions and then should make a clay idol of Lord Ganesh having four arms and in which all his symbols like the snare, the goad etc. be dearly displayed. The clay selected for the making of the idol should be black smooth clay. After making it, the idol should be ritually installed on a pedestal and sitting before it on a Kushasan the aspirant should anoint the Lord's (idol's) head with vermilion and rice grains. Then concentrating his mind on the auspicious visage of Lord Ganesh, he should chant 'Ekakshari Mantra' for exact one lakh times, giving time for natural bodily functions. When the chant is over the aspirant should perform the 'Havan' ceremony on the Panchami (known as Rishi Panchimi) day after chanting the 'Mantra' ten thousand times during the havan. On the Shashti (next day after Panchami) day, the idol of the Lord should be carried in a palanquin amidst a procession and it should be immersed in a pond or river or sea whichever is nearer. Even the women of the household should accompany the procession.
In this vow or Vrata, there is a scriptural provision for having more than one idol. One to two idols for getting an impossible work accomplished; three for money etc. But it is advisable to concentrate on one idol. It is declared in the Puranas that faith in one symbol ensures better concentration and hence better communication.
There is a story in the Puranas that when Lord Shiv had slain Tripurasur, he found his eternal spouse Parvati ji missing. Only when she had heard about the good news of Tripurasur's death that she emerged from a cave in Himalaya. She had hidden there on account of the fear she felt when her espouse Lord Shiv had gone to fight with that deadly demon. When she had come out of the cave and told her Lord about her fear, he admonished her and ordained that she should do the Ganesh Parthiva Pooja to get rid of all fear.
[The reader might be surprised that how the mother was asked by the father to worship their son which had not been born ! It is because of the perpetuity of the form's existence in different epochs. It is not that Lord Shiv and Parvati and Ganesh existed only in this Chaturyugi (the cycle of the four Yugs viz. Satya, Trem, Dwapar and Kaliyug) but they exist in every cycle. This is a common fallacious imagination occurring in the entire Hindu Mythology. So much so, Lord Shiv and Goddess Parvati have been described to have worshipped Ganesh before their marriage ! This is perhaps to show the eternity of these celestial existences. The same explanation is given by Goswami Tulsidas in his 'Ram Charita Manas' where he says:
kou suni sansaya karaya jani sur anadi jiya jani
(One should not nurse any doubt deeming gods to be the eternal existences)
(vi) Twenty One Days' Ganesh Vrata:
This should be started on Shravan Shukla Chaturthi and completed on Bhadrapada Krishna Dashmi [i.e., for eleven days in Shrawan and remaining 10 days in Bhadrapada], which makes exactly twenty one days. [It appears Lord Ganesh is specially fond of the figure of twenty one, for in his all worship rituals this figure occurs repeatedly]. On the completion of the Vrata the pious brahmans and unmarried girls should be fed on the 'Prasadam' of laddoos. This is also a special vow observed for some specific purpose.
(vii) Tila Chaturthi Vrata:
This vow is observed on Magh Shukla Chaturthi. 6 As the name suggests, on this day white til (sesame seeds) is only used for making eleven 'Modaks' -as the 'Prasadam'. The aspirant should eat only this laddoo in the night after day long fast This fast is normally kept to get rid of some dreadful disease i.e., for a specific purpose.
(viii) Doorba Ganapati Vrata:
In this vow_the grass twigs or Doorba have special significance. This vow or Vrata is observed when Vinayak Chaturthi falls on Sunday. In this ritualistic worship, after sixteen customary offerings, the aspirant should bow six times before the idol and circumambulate round the idol six times and then offer oblation of 6 twigs of grass (Doorba), and 6 laddoos. The observance of this vow ensures grace of Lord Ganapati-so declare the Puranas.
(ix) Vat Ganesh Vrata:
This vow is so named because all the rituals, worship etc., are performed beneath a banyan tree or a 'Vat'. This is normally observed right from Kartik Shukla Chaturthi 7 to Magh Shukla Chaturthi. 8 In this worship the rituals are performed before the whole family of Lord Shiv-his espouse Parvati, his two sons Ganesh and Kartikeya-and cermonial "Shodasaupchar" (sixteen offerings) are made in the same way as already mentioned in the worship of Lord Ganesh. The ultimate purpose, of this vow is to ensure good health of the devotee.
(x) Kapardi Vinayak Vrata:
Kapardi is the Sanskrit term for cowrie. The observer of this vow gives in alms cowrie and a handful of rice grain to beggars to please Lord Ganesh. It should be observed on Shravan Shukla Chaturthi. 9 After ritual Ganesh worship with sixteen customary offerings, the 'prasadam', made specially of milk and rice-Iaddoos or kheer should be distributed among the poor. The purpose is getting rich by the grace of Lord Ganesh.
1 . Emblic mynobalan (its fruit)
2 . 'Shashtang literally means with all the eight organs or members of one's body. These eight organs are : head, hands, feet, eyes, thighs, heart, speech and mind. It means salutation made with total or complete devotion in which mind and all other organs of the body are united in totality.
3 . The brief story is like this : There was a man in Dwarika called Satrajit He was an ardent worshipper of Lord Sun. Propitiated by his worship the Lord appeared before him and granted a wonder-gem called Syamantak to Satrajit The gem radiated such a dazzling light that the people of Dwarika thought as though Lord Surya (Sun) had givm him his own radiance. That gem used 10 give about 8 'bhar' (nearly 80 tolas) gold every day. Lord Krishna. asked to give that gem to the royal coffer of Dwirika but Satrajit refused. later, Satrajit's brother Prasen had gone for hunting wearing that gem where a lion devoured him and Satrajit blamed Loot Krishna that he had stolen the gem after slaying Prasen. To prove his innocence Loot Krishna went in search of that gem. The lion that had devoured the gem after killing Prasen happened to reach the cave of the fabled Bear Jambavant of the 'Ramayan' fame. Jambavant had slain the lion when the beast reached his cave and gave that gem to his daughter Jambavanti. Ultimately Loot Krishna fought a duel with Jambavant to get the gem back. Jambavant realised who he had fought with ~his chosen Lord Rim in a different form along with the gem also gave his daughter in marriage to Lord Krishna When the gem was brought back.. Lord Krishna was absolved of the entire blame and Satrajit apologised to Lord Krishna. and also married his daughter to him. The same story is referred to in the ShIoka..
4 . Mentioned under the sub-heading 'Varad Chaturthi'.
5 . The Mantra is : "OM Ganapataye Namah"
6 . Fourth Day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month Magh i.e. between mid-Dec. to mid-January.
7 . Bright half, Fourth 'Day of !be Kartik month i.e., mid-October to mid November. ,
8 . Bright half, Fourth day of Magh month i.e., mid-Dec to mid-Jan.
9 . Bright half, Fourth day of the month of Shravan (mid-July to mid-August).