Vinayaka Chaturthi is dedicated to Lord Ganesh. As per Hindu calendar, the fourth day after new moon and fourth day after a full moon are observed as Chaturthi. There are two Chaturthi Tithi in every month. It is believed that Lord Ganesha is in the fourth state and one who worships him on Chaturthi will able to reach to that state. Most of us are aware of only the Ganesh Chaturthi festival that takes place in the month of Bhadrapada (August-September).
Significance of Vinayaka Chaturthi:
The benefits of Chaturthi fasting include material progress, happiness, and prosperity. The importance of Chaturthi vrat was explained by Lord Krishna to Yudhishtira. It is also mentioned in the Narasimha Purana and Bhavishya Purana. It removes the obstacle and creates favorable situations for success. It brings Knowledge, wealth, and fulfillment of desire. It also minimizes the malefic effect caused by planet Mercury. Worshiping Lord Ganesha on Chaturthi provides powerful benefits. Chanting mantra “Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha” helps in fulfillment of all wishes.
As per the legend, Lord Ganesh was born on the fourth day (Chaturthi) of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Magh. Hence, the festival dedicated to the worship of Lord Ganesha on this Chaturthi day is named as Ganesh Chaturthi. Lord Chandra, Moon God, was the first person who observed the Ganesh Chaturthi Vrat. After being declared as Ganapati, the leader of Shiva’s ‘ganas,’ he was traveling through the heavens. Lord Moon was full of pride on his attractive looks. When he saw Lord Ganesha, Chandra Dev laughed at his appearance. Hence, Ganeshji cursed him, whenever somebody will look at Moon, he will be cursed too.” Lord Moon pleaded for forgiveness. Ganeshji then advised him to observe the Ganesh Chaturthi vrat. After following the vrat, Lord Moon was freed from the curse. By performing Chaturthi vrat Chandra Dev got rid of his curse.
Rituals and Celebrations:
In the morning of Sankashti Chaturthi, an early rise is advised. The observer takes holy bath and chants the names of Ganesh while bathing. After this, the altar of Ganesh needs to be prepared, and prayers must be offered. People going ahead with their routine or official works can do so after that excepting the fasting aspect. If they remain home or take a day off, they can engage in scriptural study or listen to divine stories or chant the names of Lord Ganesh throughout the day. In the evening, the fast is concluded after sighting the moon and offering puja to Lord Ganesh. The time of moon rise is mentioned in the calendar. Those who have difficulties in witnessing the moonrise may take note of this time and prepare for the conclusion of the vrat. However, seeing the moon physically towards the end of the vrat is said to be highly auspicious. After the time of moon rise, the observer will set up the altar, install a picture or idol of Lord Ganesh, offer a formal puja and break the fast.