Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dhantrayodashi - First Day of Diwali Festival

The thirteenth day of the dark half of the month of Ashwin is known as Dhantrayodashi or Dhan Teras. This day falls two days before Diwali and marks the first day that Diwali festivities start.

The whole house is cleaned, the front porch or entrance area is washed, and colorful rangoli designs are made. This day represents "Dhan" or wealth, so a new item is purchased for the house, usually a metal utensil, or something made of precious metals such as gold, silver, or copper, to symbolize wealth and bring prosperity for the coming year.

Diyas (oil lamps) are lit in the evening and Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, is worshiped.

First invoke Lord Ganesh by reciting and meditating on the Ganesh Mantras:

Om Shri Ganeshaye Namaha

Om Vakratunda Mahakaya
Koti Surya Sama Prabha
Nirvignam Kuru mey deva
Sarva kareshu sarvada

Then offer prayers to Goddess Laxmi:

Laxmi Mantra

Sarve Mangal Maangaley
Shivey Savaartha Saadhikey
Sharanye Treyambikey Gauri
Naraayani Namostutey

which means:

Salutations to Thee, Divine Mother
Who bestows auspiciousness on all,
Essence of all good and noble,
Fulfills everyone's wishes,
Multi-formed, bright, and shelters all,
I surrender to Thee.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ganesh Prayers: Shlokas, Stotra, Aarti

Before starting any puja or special event, we direct our attention to Ganesh, remover of obstacles. A simple prayer I've been taught to recite whether starting an exam, prior to a business presentation, or a puja:

Om Shri Ganeshaye namah

Which means: "I bow to thee Lord Ganesh"

Ganesh Shlokas:

The following shlokas are the ones my family uses most often during the start of any puja, whether a quick everyday prayer, or more elaborate special occasions.

Om Vakratunda Mahaakaaya Koteesurya Sama Prabha
Nirvighnam Kuru mey Deva
Sarva Kaaryeshu Sarvadaa

Which means: "I meditate on Lord Ganesh, having a curved trunk, large body, and brightness of a million suns, bless me by making all my work always free of any obstacles."

Om Shuklam Bara dharam
Vishnum Shashi varnam Chatur bhujam
Prasanna vadanam dhyaayet
Sarva vigno pashaantaye

Which means: "I meditate on the Lord, who wears white to symbolize purity, who has a bright complexion, four hands, an ever smiling face, to remove all obstacles."

Ganesh Dwadasanam Stotra:
This "Ganesh Twelve-Name Stotra" from the Vedic scripture Narada Purana is one that really helped me through some troubled times to calm my nerves, especially before bedtime. In it, the devotee prays to Ganesh, using His twelve names, for liberation and removal of all troubles and problems faced in life.

Pranamya shirasaa Devam Gauri purtram Vinaayakam
Bhaktaa vaasam smaren nityam aayuh kaama artha siddhaye

Which means:
"One bows to Lord Vinayaka, who is son of Gauri, who lives among devotees, and one thinks of Him always for blessings of long life, strength, and prosperity."

Prathamam Vakratundam cha Ekadantam dvitiyakam
Tritiyam Krishna pingaksham Gajavaktram chaturthakam
Lambordanam panchamam cha shashtham Vikatameva cha
Saptamam Vighnaraajam cha Dhumravarnam thatha ashtamam
Navamam Balachandram cha dashamam tu Vinayakam
Ekadasham Ganapatim dvadasham tu Gajananam

Which means:
"First, Vakratunda-God with a curved trunk, and Ekadanta-one-tusked God, Second,
Krishnapingaksham-the dark and smokey-eyed one,
Gajavaktram-elephant faced God, Fourth,
Lambordanam-large bellied God, Fifth, Sixth, Vikatameva- God who liberates,
Seventh, Vighnaraajam-Destroyer of all obstacles, Dhumravarnam-smokey color God, Eighth,
Ninth, Balachandram-God with a moon on his forehead, Tenth, Vinayakam-Leader,
Eleventh, Ganapati-Lord and nurturer of all, Twelfth, Gajananam-elephant faced God."

Dvadashaitani namani tri sandhayam ya pathen narah
nacha vigna bhayam tasya sarva siddhikaram prabho

Which means:
"If the twelve names are chanted during dawn, midday, and dusk, then fear of obstacles will be removed, and success will be attained, by the grace of the Lord."

Lord Ganesh Aarti
The devotional song, or Aarti, offered to Lord Ganesh is sung or recited while a thaali (tray) of diyas (ghee lamps) are waved in a clockwise circle in front of the deity. The diyas then become energized with the Lord's blessings. At the conclusion of the aarti, it is our custom to cup our hands over the diyas to warm our palms slightly and place over our forehead and eyes to receive the Lord's blessings. Everyone loves to sing along with this simple, and popular aarti to Lord Ganesh:

Jai Ganesh, Jai Ganesh, Jai Ganesh deva
Mata jaki Parvati, pita Mahadeva
"Salutations to you, Lord Ganesh,
Whose mother is Parvati, father great Lord Shiva"

Ek dant, dayavant, char bhuja dhari
Mathay sindoor sohai, musay ki savari
Jai Ganesh, Jai Ganesh, Jai Ganesh deva
"One-tusked compassionate Lord, with four arms,
with vermilion on your forehead, and accompanied by a mouse.
Salutations to you, Lord Ganesh"

Andhan ko ankh det, kodhin ko kaya
Banjhan ko putra det, nirdhan ko maya
Jai Ganesh, Jai Ganesh, Jai Ganesh deva
"You bless the blind with sight, chaste bodies to the leprous,
sons to childless women, and wealth to the penniless.
Salutations to you, Lord Ganesh"

Paan chadhe, phool chadhe, aur chadhe meva
Laduuan ka bhog lage, sant kare seva
Jai Ganesh, Jai Ganesh, Jai Ganesh deva
"You are offered betel leaves, flowers, and dry fruits,
You are offered Laddus, and saints worship you.
Salutations to you, Lord Ganesh."