Sankashtahara Ganapathi Vratam is the best and most affective among all types of worship done to Lord Ganesh. Specific day to do this Vrata is known to occur only once in approximately seven years. The occurrence is a rare combination and a simultaneous incidence of Magha masa, Krishna paksha (fortnight before the new moon day), Chaturthi tithi, Tuesday, and the time of Rise of moon. According to our Puranas, it is a great boon and onlygifted persons will be able to know about this Vrata and those who are blessed can only do this Vrata. By the grace of Lord Ganesh and to our luck.
What is the meaning of Sankashtahara Ganapathi Vrata?
Accurding to Ganesha Purana, Lord Ganapathi is worshipped in two forms.
1) Varada Ganapathi
2) Sankashtahara Ganapathi................
Worship to Lord Ganapathi is famous in this form as we all worship him on Ganesh Chaturthi (Vinayaka Chavithi) every year. Lord Ganapathi worshiped in this form blesses his devotees with all their desires. He is also famous as Siddhi Ganapathi or Vara Siddhi Ganapathi.
Lard Ganapathi worshipped in this form relieves us from all fears. He was worshiped by kuja (Mars) and he relieves from Kuja Dosha (Manglik Dosha) present in our horoscope. Sankashtahara Ganapathi was worshiped by Lord Yama and he also destroys the effect of sins in ones life.
It is said that Shukla Chaturthi is important for the worship of Varada Ganapathi and Krishna Chaturthi (Bahula Chavithi) is important for worship of Sankashtahara Ganapathi. Krishna Chaturthi along with Tuesday is more significant. This is called Angaraka Chaturthi or Bhauma Chaturthi these days occur just twice or thrice in a year. But these days which happen to be in Magha masa are very very rare. That most precious combination is going to occur on forth coming Feb, 2nd 2010.
STORY ABOUT THE SANKASHTAHARA GANAPATHI VRATA :
The significance of Sankashtahara Ganapathi Vrata is depicted in Ganesha Purana. Once king Kritavirya did a great penance being suffered by lack of son. Knowing this, his father, who was in Pithruloka, in turn worshiped Lord Brahama who blessed him with this Vrata is in the form of a book. Kritavirya got the knowledge of this Vrata along and the book, through his father who appeared in his dream. Kritavirya worshiped Sankashtahara Ganapathi in this Vrata Vidhana and got a son, who latter became 'Karthaviryarjuna the Great'. King Surasena came to know the greatness of this Vrata from Lord Indra and did this Vrata. As a result of that worship he was able to take all the people in his kingdom to Vinayaka loka along with him.
PROCEDURE IN BRIEF :
1. Wake up before sunrise, have bath and complete the daily worship of favorite deity.
2. Then prąy to lord Ganesha and make a wish (Sankalpam) to do Sankashtahara Ganapathi vrata.
3. Fast for whole day and have sacred thoughts all day.
4. In the evening bath with the powder made from seeds of white sesame and gooseberry (Tilamalaka churna).
5. Make an idol of lord Ganesha either with mud or turmeric powder. And prąy him to come and stay in that idol (Avahanam).
6. Worship lord Ganapathi with Dhoopa, Deepa and flowers. Worshiping with Durva is most important and mandatory.
7. One can worship lord Ganapathi with Durva twigs having three, five or seven leaves. We can worship with 21 or more twigs and at least one.
8. Chant any Ganesha mantra for at least 48 minutes.
9. Offer Nivedya and Harathi to lord Ganesha.
10. Complete puja by the rise of moon.
11. Compulsorily see the moon. prąy to the moon and Chaturthi tithi and give Arghya to both.
12. After that, prąy to lord Ganapathi and say “sankaTaam maam nivaaraya” and ask him to relieve from all troubles, give Arghya.
13. Then offer Prasada to the devotees and take yourself.
14. All through the night one should be awake with chanting and worshiping lord Ganapathi.
15. Next day morning prąy to lord Ganesha and thank him for giving this opportunity to worship and prąy to return back from the idol (Udyapanam).
16. Then do the Ganesh immersion in fresh flowing waters.
Though the procedure appears to be simple, because of lack of habituation one may get some doubts regarding the Puja. Some of them may be as follows, for which I have taken answer from Ganesha Purana.
1. What are the most significant things of this Vrata?
A. Have been highlighted in bold (2,3,7,8,11,12,13).
2. Which flowers can be used?
A. Red colored flowers like China rose (Hibiscus) are favorite of lord Vinayaka.
Tulasi should not be used in worship of lord Ganesh except on Vinayaka Chavithi, so it is banned.
3. Which Mantra to be chanted?
A. The best is the one given by Guru to worship lord Ganesh. But we can use,
either Nama mantra :
or Nama stotra :
"sumukhaschaikadantascha kapiloo gajakarNakah
lamboodarascha vikaToo vighnanaasoo gaNaadhipah
dhuumrakeeturgaNadhyakshoo phaalachandroo gajaananah
dwaadasaitaani naamaani yah paTheechchhriNuyaadapi
vidyaarambhee vivaaheecha praveesee nirgamee tathaa
sangraamee sankaTeechaiva vighnastasya najaayatee"
4. What should be offered as Nivedya?
A. Modakas, Bananas, Payasam and Seeds of sesame.
5. When should we take Prasada?
A. Not in the next morning, we should take it that night itself 'after the rise of moon', after prąying to lord Ganesh and offering to devotees.
6. What are the easiest ways to pass the whole day memorizing lord Ganesh?
A. Reading Ganesha Purana, Preparing Nivedya. Singing and Dancing in the name of lord Ganesh in also good.
7. What if we don’t know about Arghya?
A. Better avoid unknown procedures, and prąy wholeheartedly.
8. What if we don’t know how to do the Vrata?
A. Better invite a priest and request him to do the Sankatahara Ganapathi Vrata for you. But compulsorily give the priest adequate money for his deed, immediately after completion.
Benefits of Sankatahara Ganapathi Vrata :
The benefits and uses of Sankatahara Ganapathi Vrata are clearly depicted in Ganesha Purana as stories. Among them: Being blessed with children, getting rid of the sin of Brahmahatya, getting rid of handicap, getting rid of Kuja Dosha (Manglik Dosha), to be become a king, cure of leprosy, to be free from slavery, control of anger, to escape from unexpected sudden ďeath, to get cured of TB, to be blessed with true knowledge, to get back lost articles, being blessed with one’s desires, victory in war, blessings of Guru, vitality etc.. But many of the above mentioned benefits are not essential for many people in present generation. So devotees who worship Lord Ganesha do this Vrata to get rid of the obstacles for marriages, to be blessed with children, to meet lost relatives and to get relieved of all bad effects in their horoscope. This great Vrata which has immense benefits can be fruitful if done just for one day and gives a place in Ganesha loka.
"WHO KNOWS" what may be the situation when this great and precious day comes again. So let us make use of our excellent fortune to get close to our spiritual goals by doing this Sankatahara Ganapathi Vrata. Let us be blessed by the son of Sakthi who has Shakti !!!
-from online web resource