With these words I start this compilation of the way of celebrating Ganesh Chathurthi /Chavathi !
|pic courtesy –Sujatha S Shenoy|
The fourth day of the Shukla Paksha of the month of Bhadrapad is Ganesh Chaturthi or as we call it Chavathi. Lord Ganesha who is also considered as the Vighna haratha or the remover of obstacles is worshipped on this day by both the Vaishnavites and the Shaivites alike !
As I have mentioned earlier there is variation in the way this festival is celebrated among the GSBs of Kanataka ( North & South Canara & in Kerala states!
In Kerala Cochin G.S.Bs do not usually celebrate Chavathi in their homes as it is celebrated in the Konkan Belt. But in all GSB temples special poojas are performed to Lord Ganesha’s permanent Moorthi and devotees pray there ! they perform Modaka Prasada Pooja and chant the Ganesh Sahasranam in their homes .
Recently as per our Kashi Mutt Swamiji’s instructions special Sarwajanik Ganesh Utsav has started in some Cochin GSB temple premises. A special Ganesha Idol of clay is kept and pooja offered . Sarvajanik feast is held and there after Visarjan is performed in the temple pond itself !Those who have siblings adorn their hands with Mehendhi ( methi ) for their well being and prosperity !
This festival too like the Vayna pooja runs only in certain GSB families in south & North Cnara and the rituals have to be strictly adhered to before, during and after the pooja, so in most households it is celebrated only for a day unlike other Indian households where He is worshipped for five or even seven days. Traditionally our ancestors made the idol of clay themselves. A good day and time was selected to start the process of idol making and usually of the same size . But in some families they add one more fistful of clay making it a litlle bigger every year. It is kept on a wooden “Peeta ” .Only the portion of the eyes was left blank and they were drawn an hour prior to the commencement of the pooja, as it was believed that drawing the Drishti instilled life in the idol and he had to be worshipped immediately. Today the tradition of making the clay idols is dying and most households get the readily available ones home .
Usually the pooja is performed at the ancestral house (kutumbe k mhalgade) and all all the immediate and extended family members gather there.Those who don’t live in the home town go to the temple if they are unable to come to their elders house.
|Pic Courtesy –Veena Nayak|
For Ganesh chaturthi all the items for the feast are newly bought and no used items not even salt is used .. The whole house is thoroughly cleaned . The day before women take a ritual bath and keep upvas for the preparation of the naivedya items . They partake of only wheat or sooji rava dishes .For preparing appo and panchkadayi as per South Canara traditionsl the same measurements have to be used as per the first chavathi. Men set up the mantapa for the moorti pratishtha. On Chathurthi day – early morning at the auspicious time the moorti is brought into the house.Then follow very beautiful moments to be cherished, as dristi with kumkum water of the moorti is taken (Latti udak uvalche ),and then a coconut is broken and water is drizzled on the moorti !
|Pic courtesy – Padmini Kamath|
The moorti is kept in the mantapa ( Prathishta ), and is now decorated with lots of shenvthe, mogarein, gondo, and the important one being the red hibiscus of which Ganpathi is believed to be fond of. A garland of Darbha grass too is adorned around his neck. A dristi with kajal is also done to the moorti ,Ornaments which have been passed on from generations are also adorned .After Prathista of Lord Ganesh, Gana Homa is performed. After that follows the Madhyana maha pooja and feast
|Pic Courtesy – Veena Nayak|
Ganesha or Ganpathi Bappa as he is fondly called is well known for his love for food. A variety of delicacies are offered to him and care is taken to see that the food items offered as Naivedya in the morning are not repeated in the evening. Godu Appo is traditionally offered as Naivedya by GSBs along with Panchakajjeya, Patholi, Tila Undo and also Pitti Panchakdayi. The women prepare all the food items like sheeth, khotto, chutney, dalithoy, Pathrado, sukkein, ghashi, upkari, tavshya hullel and five types of phodi while wearing a brand new set of clothes or” anwallein”. You can find the recipes for all the dishes in this blog ! The priest or even the man of the house conducts the rituals with mantras and Ganesh ashtothara being recited.
Poojas like Apoopa naivedya, Ranga Pooja, Phulla Pooja, moodh Ganapathi and Maha moodh Ganapathi too are performed depending on which particular Pooja has been passed down through the generations. Agarbathi and Arathi are waved to the clashing of Jagghanta and bells and singing of bhajans in praise of the Lord. Arathi is also waved to the Mooshak or the mouse who is His Vahana .
All the prasad items are served on five paan or plantain leaves and small children are made to eat from that prasàd Paan .Everybody then partakes the Prasad and an atmosphere of bonhomie pervades everywhere.
|pic courtesy –Padmini Kamath
In many families who have Ranga pooja and moodh Ganapati deva the idol and its surrounding is decorated using banana stem (gabbo) . On a long table a minimum of 21 plantain leaves with panchkadayi,sugarcane pieces,flower,tender coconut,bananas are arranged along with a ponthi or a small lamp and pooja is performed .This is done when some member’s wish has been granted!
|Pic Courtesy – Veena Sadanand Nayak|
If there has been a new born child in the family , the baby is placed on a new towel (angaso ) and swung in it like a cradle before the lord ! this is called “phalavali”
In the evening, five types of fruits the most important being pomegranate and five types of dry fruits are offered and arathi waved. in a large plate/ poleru water mixed with kumkum is made and kept in front of the lord ( latti udak dakovnnu ).All present view the reflection of the lord in the water .
The idol is then slightly moved to signify the end of the rituals and then begins the process of carrying the idol to the place where it is to be immersed . Again a coconut is broken and water drizzled on the moorti ,and after an aarti visarjan is performed asking ganapati to come again “Ganapati bappa moraya pudcha varshee laukariya”.The lady of the house carries a lamp in front and moorti is taken for visarjan. Most households have a well where the immersion takes place, failing which it is carried to the nearest water body and immersed there. The idol is placed on the ledge of the well and again arathi is waved, and all the jewellery is carefully removed. The pitambar, shawl, followed by the flowers and the Darbha garland are thrown towards the crowd gathered who are all eagerly waiting to catch it. The idol of Lord Ganesha is immersed and as the first bubbles arise a pot full of water is drawn up and sprinkled on the waiting devotees. That signifies the end of the rituals and all the ornaments are cleaned and carefully put away. The Peeta is collected after visarjan in the well or tank and kept safely and reverently for the next year’s use ( the Peeta will float in the water next day since it is wooden) .
Some points to be noted ! Since this is hereditary each family follows their way of celebration with great reverence . Any shortcomings will be avoided in all aspects – be it pooja rituals , decoration or naivedya .Some families have both vayana pooja and chavthi ..some have only vayana and some only chavthi.. It all depends on how the tradition has been carried on by elders and ancestors .Some have the tradition of not keeping an idol but a picture of Ganesha and also Gouri…made from paper..it is generally referred as kagadha Gowri and kagdha Ganapathi(.kagadh=paper). If anyone wishes to start the pooj in their home then it has to be continued every year. Also the number of dishes offered should remain the same or increase but never decrease ! Ranga Pooja celebrations differ from place to place . Due to circumstances in the family if anyone is unable to continue the tradition then they give it up to a bhatmaam along with all the ornaments and accompaniments to him , ( vaisun divche ) .
One interesting story about Chavathi is that Ganpathi Bappa had eaten so much, that his stomach burst and he had to tie it up with a snake. The Moon who was quietly watching this, laughed loudly much to Lord Ganesha’s discomfiture. He cursed the moon saying that whosoever looked at him on Chaturthi would have allegations of being a thief levelled against him, so till date most people avoid looking at the moon on that day.
|Pic courtesy –Veena Sadanand Nayak|