Sankashti Chaturthi History

Sankashti Chaturthi History

Pankajnath Tiwari :-
Sankashti Chaturthi is an auspicious day dedicated to Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity in Hinduism. It is observed on the fourth day (Chaturthi) of the waning phase of the moon (Krishna Paksha) in the Hindu calendar month. This monthly festival holds great significance for Ganesha devotees, who observe it with fasting, prayers, and other rituals.

The history of Sankashti Chaturthi dates back to ancient times and is believed to have originated in the state of Maharashtra in western India. The festival gained prominence and popularity due to the efforts of the great saint and poet, Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj (also known as Jnaneshwar or Jnanesvara) during the 13th century.

Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj was a prominent figure in the Bhakti movement, a devotional movement that emphasized a personal and intimate connection with the divine. He composed the famous devotional work, “Dnyaneshwari,” which is a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita in the Marathi language.

Legend has it that Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj’s sister, Muktabai, observed Sankashti Chaturthi with great devotion and received the blessings of Lord Ganesha. Inspired by her faith and devotion, Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj spread the significance of Sankashti Chaturthi among the masses through his writings and teachings. He emphasized the importance of observing the fast on this day and seeking Lord Ganesha’s blessings for success, prosperity, and the removal of obstacles.

Since then, the observance of Sankashti Chaturthi has spread to different parts of India and is widely celebrated, particularly in Maharashtra, Gujarat, and other regions with a significant Ganesha following. Devotees wake up early, take a ritual bath, and visit Ganesha temples to offer prayers and seek His blessings. They observe a day-long fast, abstaining from food until the sighting of the moon in the evening. The fast is broken after sighting the moon, followed by the consumption of specially prepared food known as “prasad.”

During Sankashti Chaturthi, devotees recite prayers, chant hymns dedicated to Lord Ganesha, and perform aarti (rituals with lamps) in the evening. It is believed that observing this fast with devotion and sincerity can fulfill one’s desires, bring good fortune, and remove obstacles from one’s path.

The festival of Sankashti Chaturthi not only holds religious significance but also promotes unity and social harmony among devotees. It is a time for families and communities to come together and celebrate the presence of Lord Ganesha in their lives.

Origin and meaning of “Sankashti”: The word “Sankashti” is derived from the Sanskrit language, where “San” means “sankat” (problems or difficulties), and “Kashti” refers to “kaṣṭa” (the removal or alleviation of). Therefore, Sankashti Chaturthi is considered a propitious day for seeking relief from various obstacles and challenges in life.

Rituals and Observances:

Fasting: Devotees observe a strict fast on Sankashti Chaturthi. It is customary to abstain from consuming any food made with grains, lentils, or beans. Some people observe a complete fast, while others opt for a partial fast, consuming fruits, milk, and specific permitted food items.

Ganesh Pooja: Devotees offer prayers to Lord Ganesha during this day. They set up a small shrine or altar with an idol or picture of Ganesha and perform the pooja (worship) rituals. This includes offering flowers, incense, fruits, sweets, and a sacred thread (raksha) tied around the wrist as a symbol of protection.

Chanting and Bhajans: Reciting sacred texts and singing devotional songs dedicated to Lord Ganesha is an integral part of Sankashti Chaturthi. Popular chants and bhajans such as the “Ganesh Atharvashirsha” and the “Ganapati Stotram” are often recited.

Moon Sighting: One of the highlights of Sankashti Chaturthi is the sighting of the moon. Devotees eagerly wait for the moonrise in the evening. Once the moon is visible, they break their fast and offer prayers to the moon, seeking blessings from Lord Ganesha.

Storytelling: In some households, it is customary to narrate stories and legends related to Lord Ganesha during the evening prayer session. These stories highlight Ganesha’s wisdom, compassion, and his role as the remover of obstacles.

Regional Variations:

In Maharashtra: Sankashti Chaturthi holds special significance in Maharashtra, where it is celebrated with great enthusiasm. Processions of devotees carrying Ganesha idols, singing devotional songs, and performing traditional dances called “Ganesh Dhol” are a common sight. The famous Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai witnesses a massive influx of devotees on this day.

In Gujarat: Sankashti Chaturthi is celebrated as “Angarki Chaturthi” in Gujarat. The term “Angarki” refers to the belief that observing the fast on this day brings the same benefits as observing it for 21 consecutive months. The day is marked by special prayers, cultural programs, and distribution of prasad to devotees.

Other Regions: While Maharashtra and Gujarat have significant observances of Sankashti Chaturthi, the festival is also celebrated in other parts of India. Devotees in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and other states offer prayers to Lord Ganesha and observe the fast with devotion.

Significance of the Chaturthi Tithi: The Chaturthi Tithi (fourth lunar day) is considered to be an auspicious day dedicated to Lord Ganesha. According to Hindu mythology, it is believed that Lord Ganesha was born during the Chaturthi Tithi of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada (August/September). Hence, Sankashti Chaturthi holds added significance as it commemorates Ganesha’s birth and is seen as a day to invoke his blessings.

Vrat Katha (Fasting Story): Along with the rituals and prayers, devotees often listen to or read the Vrat Katha, which is a narrative associated with Sankashti Chaturthi. The Vrat Katha narrates a story or incident highlighting the significance of observing the fast and Lord Ganesha’s blessings. These stories often emphasize the importance of faith, devotion, and the positive outcomes of seeking Ganesha’s intervention in one’s life.

Festive Preparations: Prior to Sankashti Chaturthi, devotees engage in various preparations to make the day special. They clean their homes, decorate the altar or puja room with flowers, garlands, and lights. Some people also create beautiful rangoli (colorful designs) near the entrance of their homes to welcome the divine energy.

Community Celebrations: Sankashti Chaturthi is not only observed in individual households but also celebrated in Ganesha temples and community settings. Many temples organize special events, processions, and cultural programs to mark the occasion. These festivities often include devotional singing, dance performances, and dramas depicting episodes from Lord Ganesha’s life.

Sankashti Chaturthi in the Lunar Calendar: Sankashti Chaturthi is celebrated every month based on the Hindu lunar calendar. Each month, the Chaturthi Tithi during the waning phase of the moon is observed as Sankashti Chaturthi. The festival holds significance throughout the year, and devotees mark their calendars to remember and prepare for each monthly observance.

Other Names and Variations: Sankashti Chaturthi is known by different names in various regions. In addition to “Angarki Chaturthi” in Gujarat, it is also referred to as “Sankatahara Chaturthi” in South India, which translates to “the Chaturthi that removes obstacles.” These names reflect the belief that observing the fast on this day can help alleviate troubles and challenges in one’s life.

Online Observance: In recent times, with the advancement of technology and the availability of online platforms, devotees have started to participate in virtual Sankashti Chaturthi celebrations. They can join live streaming of temple rituals, access digital versions of Vrat Katha, and engage in virtual satsangs (spiritual gatherings) to celebrate the festival from the comfort of their homes.

Vighnaharta Ganesha: Lord Ganesha is revered as the “Vighnaharta,” meaning the remover of obstacles. Sankashti Chaturthi is considered an auspicious day to seek Ganesha’s blessings for the removal of hurdles and challenges in life. Devotees believe that by observing the fast and performing the prescribed rituals, they can overcome difficulties and achieve success in their endeavors.

Special Prasad: As part of the Sankashti Chaturthi observance, devotees prepare special dishes or sweets to offer as prasad (blessed food) to Lord Ganesha. Modak, a sweet dumpling made of rice flour or wheat flour filled with jaggery and coconut, is a popular delicacy associated with Ganesha and is commonly offered as prasad on this day. It is believed to be Lord Ganesha’s favorite food.

Ekadanta Form of Ganesha: Sankashti Chaturthi is also associated with the Ekadanta form of Lord Ganesha. Ekadanta signifies “one tooth” and is depicted with Ganesha having a single tusk. Devotees believe that worshipping Lord Ganesha in his Ekadanta form on Sankashti Chaturthi can bestow wisdom, intellect, and the ability to overcome intellectual hurdles.

Astrological Significance: Sankashti Chaturthi is also considered significant from an astrological perspective. It is believed that the position of the moon on this day holds particular astrological benefits. According to Vedic astrology, the moon’s influence on Sankashti Chaturthi can have a positive impact on one’s emotional well-being and help in strengthening mental faculties.

Sankashti Chaturthi Vrat Vidhi (Ritual Procedure): The Vrat Vidhi outlines the step-by-step procedure for observing the fast and performing the rituals of Sankashti Chaturthi. It includes waking up early in the morning, taking a holy bath, wearing clean clothes, and adorning oneself with sandalwood paste, kumkum (vermilion), and fresh flowers. The devotee then begins the day’s prayers and follows the prescribed rituals, which may include the recitation of specific mantras and the performance of aarti (lighting lamps) in honor of Lord Ganesha.

Associated Mantras and Slokas: Chanting mantras and slokas dedicated to Lord Ganesha is an integral part of Sankashti Chaturthi. Devotees often recite the “Ganesha Atharvashirsha,” “Ganesha Pancharatnam,” or other Ganesha-related mantras to invoke his blessings and seek his divine grace.

Sankashti Chaturthi in the Gregorian Calendar: While Sankashti Chaturthi follows the Hindu lunar calendar, which may have variations in its alignment with the Gregorian calendar, devotees often refer to the specific dates of Sankashti Chaturthi provided in the Gregorian calendar to keep track of the monthly observances.

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