Each lunar month in Hindu calendar has two Chaturthi Tithis. The one after Purnima or full moon (this period is known as Krishna Paksha) is called asSankashti Chaturthi and the one after Amavasya or new moon(this period is known as Shukla Paksha) is called as Vinayaka Chaturthi. Sankashti Chaturthi vrat is observed to be free of dangers, Deity of this vrat is Sri Vighnavinayak Ganeshji. Vinayaki Chaturthi fast is observed throughout the day of Vinayaki Chaturthi. ‘Sri Sidhhivinayak’ is the Deity of this vrat.
In North India Sankashti Chaturthi during Magha month is known as Sakat Chauth. Also Vinayaka Chaturthi during Bhadrapada month is known as Ganesha Chaturthi. Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated by Hindus all over the world as the birthday of Lord Ganesha.
Sankashti Chaturthi is also known as Ganesh Sankatahara or Sankatahara Chaturthi among Tamil Hindus.
Sankashti Chaturthi fasting is done every month. The most significant Sankashti Chaturthi falls in month of Magha according to Purnimant School and in month of Paush according to Amavasyant School.
Here is How to Perform Sankshti Chaturthi Vrat
Sankashti Vrat and Puja is dedicated to Lord Ganesha and is observed on the fourth day after Purnima or full moon. Sankashti fasting is from morning to the sighting of the moon. Sankashti Puja is performed in the evening. Observing Sankashta Chaturthi is believed to help in removing all difficulties and obstacles in life.
For most people Sankashti Chaturti is a complete fast which is broken after sighting the moon and performing puja. There are also people who observe partial fast.
Following are rituals associated with Sankashtachaturthi vrat
Fasting throughout the day.
Ritualistic worship of Sri Ganeshji in the evening
Darshan of the moon
Worship of the moon (Chandrapujan)
Along with this, as a way of worship, people having faith in Sri Ganeshji perform various actions as per their ability like:
Going for darshan to the temple on foot or going on bare feet.
Listening to or reciting Sri Mudgalapurana,
Sri Ganeshsahasranamavali etc..
Reciting the stotrasChanting etc.
Sankashti Chaturti Morning
After early morning bath, prayers are offered to Lord Ganesha in the usual way by lighting a lamp or Aarti. Anyone of the prayers dedicated to Lord Ganesh is chanted. The fasting begins after puja.
Food that can be eaten by those observing Partial Fasting
Those people observing partial fast can eat Sabudana Khichadi or fruits or curd rice.
Sankashti Chaturthi Evening Puja
The puja is usually performed after sighting the moon. If moon is not sighted, the puja is performed as per the moonrise time given in the Panchang or calendar.
Idol or painting or photo of Lord Ganesh is decorated using flowers and Durva grass.
A lamp is lit.
A coconut, banana and flowers are offered to Lord Ganesh.
Usually a Prasad (Modak or any other sweet) is prepared and offered.
Aarati is performed. Other usual puja procedures like chanting mantras, lighting incense or agarbatis are done.
After the Puja the Prasad is distributed.
Some people opt for a more elaborate Shodashopchar puja (Steps Given at end)
Sankashti Chaturthi Evening Puja to Moon
The worship of the moon assumes special importance in the Sankashtachaturthi vrat. If possible, one should go out of the house and take darshan of the moon. The substances are offered to the moon in a copper platter. If for some reason the moon is not visible in the sky, an image of the moon is made as a symbol and worshipped. If this is not possible, a picture of the moon is drawn with rangoli on a wooden seat or a stool and it is worshipped. Sandalwood paste and flowers are offered to the moon. Incense stick and lamp are waved in front of it. Now Holy sacrament (naivedya) is offered to the moon.After the worship of the moon, arghya is offered three times – once for the Chaturthi tithi, once for Mahaganapati and thereafter once for sankashtanashan Sri Ganeshji. In the end the fourth arghya is offered to the moon. After praying for the welfare of all, the worship is concluded.
If detailed puja is not possible then simply sprinkle water, sandalwood paste, flowers and consecrated rice in the direction of the moon.
Vratangabhojan of Sankashtachaturthi
The host can consume food after the evening worship of Sri Ganeshji and the worship of the moon. The host should consume food prepared as the Holy sacrament as a prasad. It is the ritual of the Sankashtachaturthi vrat to take meals at the time of moon rise. Hence, this meal is not for breaking the fast, but as a part of the vrat, that is, Vratangabhojan.The meaning of consuming a meal means consuming cooked rice along with other items of food. The reason for consuming rice is that the Scriptures have given the status of ‘anna’, that is, food, only to rice.
Mantras Chanted During Sankashti Vrat Day
Sankashtnashana sthothraGanesha AshtotharaVakrathunda mahakaya or any of the popular mantras dedicated to Lord Ganesh is chanted.