Sankashti Chaturthi is an auspicious festival dedicated to Lord Ganesh, who is also known as Vighnaharta (the destroyer of all problems). Most of the Hindu devotees celebrate this day wholeheartedly which falls in every lunar month of the Hindu calendar on the fourth day of Krishna Paksha (dark lunar phase or the waning phase). If this auspicious day falls on a Tuesday then it is called Angaraki Sankashti Chaturthi and considered highly important among all Sankashti Chaturthi days.
According to Hindu mythology, it is a reserved day to worship Lord Ganesh because the Supreme Lord Shiva declared His son Ganesh, superior among all the gods with the exception of Vishnu, Lakshmi, Shiva, and Parvati. It is believed that Lord Ganesh bestows His presence on earth to fulfil all wishes of His devotees on this day.
The devotees observe a full day or partial fast from morning till evening and perform the puja in the evening. Devotees celebrate this holy day with great zeal and enthusiasm. They conclude the fast after sighting the Moon God in the evening. According to the lunar month cycle, Lord Ganesh is worshiped with a different name on every Chaturthi. Vedic scriptures like the Bavishyat Purana and Narasimha Purana describes the significance and importance of all 13 (including Adhika Masa) Sankashti Chaturthi Vrat that falls in a year. Followings are the names of 13 Sankashti Chaturthi -
1. Chaitra Masa - Vikata Maha Ganapati
2. Vaishakha Masa- Chanakra Raja Ekadanta Ganapathi
3. JeshthaMasa- Krishna Pingala Maha Ganapati
4. Ashadha Masa- Gajaanana Ganapati
5. Shravana Masa- Heramba Maha Ganapati
6. Bhadrapada Masa- Vignaraja Maha Ganapati
7. Ashweeja Masa- Vakrathunda Maha Ganapati
8. Karthika Masa- Ganadipa Maha Ganapati
9. Margashira Masa- Akuratha Maha Ganapati
10. Pushya Masa- Lambodara Maha Ganapati
11. Magha Masa- Dwijapriya Maha Ganapati
12. Phalguna Masa- Balachandra Maha Ganapati
13. Adhika Masa- Vibhuvana Palaka Maha Ganapati
Significance of Sankashti Chaturthi:
• AgraPujya, Vighnaharta Shri Ganesh is an incarnation of wisdom and virtue. Hence, fasting and praising the supreme deity on this day brings knowledge, health, wealth, and happiness to a devotee.
• Shiva Purana mentions that observing a Vrat (fast) on this auspicious day with complete devotion and faith will remove all your obstacles.
• As per religious beliefs, in 700 BC, devotees started celebrating this auspicious day with a faith that Lord Ganesh will surely avert bad times from their life and bless them with knowledge and wealth.
• The Brahmavaivarat Purana states that Lord Ganesha is the son of supreme Lord Shiva and Parvati as well as a manifestation of the supreme consciousness. By worshipping Him, a person gets blessings in the form of intellect and wisdom and freedom from all obstacles.
Rituals on Sankashti Chaturthi:
• The devotees who observe Sankashti Chaturthi Vrat, wake up early in the morning and puts on a new or clean clothes after taking a holy bath before sunrise.
• Devotees observe a complete fast or partial fast on this day.
• The idol of Lord Ganesh is placed in a clean place and decorated with durva grass, fresh flowers, lamps with ghee, and incense sticks.
• Prasad like modaks and ladoos are offered to Lord Ganesha.
• The ritual begins with chanting mantras and reciting the Vrata Katha (stories).
• The ritual comes to an end in the evening after completing the puja and aarti of Lord Ganesh.
• Fast is concluded with the prasad and some fruits after sighting the moon God are taken in the evening.
Mantra to chant on this day: The following popular mantra invokes blessings of Lord Ganesh. According to Hindu mythology, anybody can chant this mantra at the beginning of a ceremony or ritual to please Lord Ganesh, as He is known as AgraPujya (the first Lord to be worshipped).
Vakra Tunndda Maha Kaaya, Surya Kotti Samaprabha
Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva, Sarva Kaaryessu Sarvadaa
Meaning: I bow down in front of Lord Ganpati who has a huge body, a curved elephant trunk, and has brilliance of a crore sun. Worshipping Him will remove all obstacles from my endeavours.
Sankashti Chaturthi Vrat story: A legend from the puranic literature of ancient India declares, Angarak, an accomplished saint, and son of Mother Earth and Bharadwaj Rishi, was a great devotee of Lord Ganesha. Angarika means Planet Mars (Mangal- The red planet) and Angarika Chaturthi is connected to Mars. Angarak was a brilliant student and learned about worshipping Ganesha from his father rishi Bharadwaj, who himself was a great follower of Lord Ganesha. As Angarak grew up with the teachings of his father, he himself became a great devotee of Lord Ganesha. He started worshiping Ganesha for His darshan (sight) and blessings.
On Magh Krishna Chaturthi (on Tuesday), Lord Ganesh blessed him and asked him for a wish. Angarak requested that his only wish was to merge with Lord Ganesha’s name forever. The Lord became happy with his worship and granted his wish and declared that whoever worships Lord Ganesha on this day will be granted all that he/ she prays for. Since that day, people believe that Angaraki Sankashti Chaturthi is the most auspicious day to worship Lord Ganesh and to seek His blessings. It is also believed that a devotee who observes a fast on Angaraka sankasht Chaturthi gets the benefits equal to all other 12 Sankashti Chaturthi.
Summary: As per Hindu Panchanga, Sankashti Chaturthi is celebrated on the 4th day of the waning phase of the moon (Krishna Paksha). This auspicious festival is dedicated to the Supreme Lord Vignaraja Ganesh. ‘Sankashti’ is a Sanskrit word which means deliverance or freedom from difficulties. Therefore, worshiping and keeping a vrat on this day will bring many benefits to a devotee, and he/she can live a blissful life without any obstacle or hurdles.
Lord Ganapati is the most popular god in Hinduism and the loving son of the Supreme Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Vighnaharta Ganesh is the most gracious God who is easily pleased with little acts of devotion and prayer and removes anything that troubles a devotee.