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A Ganesha Puja

The following is provided as an example of a Ganesha Puja. There is much more which can be put into the rite, such as installation of a yantra, etc., but this version is suitable for general use. This version of the puja has been used at open meetings, with as many as forty people participating.


Requirements:

votive image (such as a small statuette of Ganesha, a picture, or an image created for the rite)
3 small bowls - one contains water, the other 2 are empty
Incense or joss sticks
Perfume
Freshly cut red flowers
Red Candle
Pot of Red Paste
Mala (for counting repetitions of mantra)
Food Offering
Instrument for making music (i.e. drum, rattle, bells)

Preliminaries:

Set up place of ritual. The above items may be tastefully arranged around a small altar, if desired. Participants may wish to begin with a relaxation exercise, followed by any preferred opening ritual (i.e. the Shiva Opening Rite or the Dattatreya Rite). Obviously, all participants should have some knowledge of the shape, attributes and qualities associated with Ganesha. As part of the preliminary opening rite, participants may have ritual marks placed on them using the red paste.

The Sequence:

Internal Installation of Ganesha
External Installation of Ganesha
Offerings to the god indwelling the image
The 108 Salutations to Ganesha
108 repetitions of the chosen Mantra
Reading of the Ganesha Upanishad
closing

Internal Installation of Ganesha

The aim of this part of the puja is to meditate upon an image of Ganesha within, and to identify with the qualities associated with the god.

"Feel your belly to be a void within you. As you breathe, see this void beginning to fill with a scarlet mist. Gradually, the mist begins to form a shape - the shape of the Elephant-headed one, Ganesha."

"Ganesha, vermillion-coloured, with the head of an elephant and the body of a man, whose vehicle is a mouse.

Big of belly, with ears like winnowing baskets, he holds a pomegranate in his trunk, and the crescent moon is upon his forehead. In his four hands he holds a tusk, an elephant goad, a noose, and gives the gesture of granting boons."

"The tusk he holds represents service
The goad prods us along our path
The noose reminds us of that which binds us
To his favoured he grants all boons
His ears, like winnowing baskets, sift truth from non-truth
His twisting trunk shows us the power of strength and discrimination
His vehicle, the Mouse, is for cunning, and subtlety."

"Meditate upon the qualities of the Ganesha within you - he has the strength and wisdom of an elephant; the intelligence of man; the cunning and subtlety of a mouse. He is the Lord of the Gannas, the demon-horde of Shiva. He is the bringer of luck, the remover of obstacles. Son of Shiva and Parvati, beloved of gods and men alike."

This internal meditation may last for as long as is deemed desirable by the ritual leaders. The litanies above are given as examples only.

External Installation of Ganesha

The next step is for all participants to externalise their internal Ganeshas into the image which has been chosen as a receptacle for worship. In a small group, this may be done by passing the image to each person who, upon receiving it, takes a deep in-breath and breathes out their ‘internal Ganesha’ into the form. In a large group however, an alternative approach is for all participants to focus attention upon the chosen form, and, at a signal from the ritual leader, all simultaneously project their internal Ganesha into the form.

Offerings to the Image

The next phase of the puja is to make offerings to the form which contains the power of Ganesha.

Gam, Obesiance to Ganapati (pour water from 1st bowl into other two)
Gam this water. Gam Gam Gam Hum Hum Om Gam Ganapati Namah
[Offer first bowl to Ganesha] - Gam, this is for sipping
[Offer second bowl to Ganesha] - Gam, this is for bathing
[Dab perfume on head of Ganesha] - Gam, this is perfume
[Cense Image around Ganesha] - Gam, this is incense, this is for prayer
[Offer Candle to Ganesha] - Gam, this is flame, this is for sacrifice
[Offer Food to Ganesha] - Gam, this is food, this is for sustenance
[Offer Flower to Ganesha] - Gam, this is flower, this is for experience
[Make music to Ganesha] - Gam, this is music, this is for enjoyment
Take these offerings O Sri Mahaganapati, bestow siddhi upon us!

Following this formalised sequence of offerings, we often like to relate one or two of the adventures of Ganesha. This provides a further opportunity for meditation on the God for the participants, also giving a further exposition of the god’s various attributes and qualities.

The 108 Salutations to Ganesha

The 108 Salutations is a call-and-response sequence, i.e. one person calls out the Salutation and the other participants repeat it back.

Salutations to him who is our refuge
Salutations to the one with the wondrous form
Salutations to the foremost presider
Salutations to him who is the fire within
Salutations to the first born
Salutations to the unborn one
Salutations to him who is without impurity
Salutations to him who is worshipped by all
Salutations to the manifestation of the unmanifest
Salutations to the inexhaustible one
Salutations to the inexhaustible one
Salutations to the granter of devotees’ desires
Salutations to the destroyer of devotees’ obstacles
Salutations to the one who loves pomegranates
Salutations to him who is celibate
Salutations to him who is free from aversion to the Divine
Salutations to the foremost knower of Brahman
Salutations to him whom intelligence is dear
Salutations to him who is powerful
Salutations to him who wields the discus
Salutations to the wearer of the moon on his head
Salutations to the ingenious one
Salutations to the one with four arms
Salutations to the skilful one
Salutations to the self-controlled one
Salutations to the compassionate one
Salutations to the resplendent one
Salutations to the courageous one
Salutations to him who is fond of durva (grass) and bilva (tree)
Salutations to him who has two mothers
Salutations to him who is fond of the twice-born
Salutations to the one with a single tusk
Salutations to the lord of the multitudes
Salutations to him who has an elephant’s face
Salutations to him who wields the mace
Salutations to the son of Gauri
Salutations to the lord of planets
Salutations to him who transcends all qualities
Salutations to him who is lion-like
Salutations to the rapturous one
Salutations to him who hold the sugarcane bow
Salutations to the bestower of Indra’s power
Salutations to the one with matted locks
Salutations to the embodiment of wisdom
Salutations to him who works incessantly
Salutations to the bestower of absolute happiness
Salutations to the destroyer of Kali’s impurity
Salutations to the embodiment of time
Salutations to him who is love
Salutations to the beloved one
Salutations to him who upholds the mountains
Salutations to the one with the big belly
Salutations to the source of all illusory power
Salutations to him who is praised by sages
Salutations to him whose vehicle is the mouse
Salutations to he who wears a cobra as a sacred thread
Salutations to him who is without blemish
Salutations to the destroyer of wickedness
Salutations to him for whom there is no other
Salutations to the wielder of the noose and goad
Salutations to him who is feared by ambitious men
Salutations to the blissful one
Salutations to the pure one
Salutations to the God worshipped by Rama
Salutations to the creator
Salutations to him whose form is existence/ knowledge/bliss
Salutations to him who is fond of playing with his mother Parvati, daughter of the mountain lord
Salutations to the powerful one
Salutations to him who is fond of the Sama Veda
Salutations to the attentive one
Salutations to the supporter of the worlds
Salutations to the dearest son so Shiva’s spouse
Salutations to the bestower of all perfections
Salutations to the bestower of all fulfilment
Salutations to the son of Siva
Salutations to the omnipresent Self
Salutations to the peaceful one
Salutations to the peaceful one
Salutations to the unchanging one
Salutations to him whose lotus feet sage worship
Salutations to the bestower of fulfilment
Salutations to the auspicious one
Salutations to the first-born, Skanda’s brother
Salutations to him whose eyes are the sun and moon
Salutations to the bestower of prosperity
Salutations to him with the beautiful throat
Salutations to him who manifests prosperity
Salutations to the lord of Lakshmi
Salutations to him who has a stout neck
Salutations to he who is pleased with praise
Salutations to the pure one
Salutations to him with ears like winnowing fans
Salutations to him who is a vast ocean of sweetness
more charming than the god of love
Salutations to him who acts independently
Salutations to the self-established one
Salutations to the content one
Salutations to him who holds the blue lotus
Salutations to the lord of speech
Salutations to the bestower of boons
Salutations to the bestower of speech
Salutations to the lord of the wise
Salutations to the controller of destiny
Salutations to the lord of obstacles
Salutations to the remover of obstacles
Salutations to him who is free from fear

Note

"Gam" is the ‘Seed-Mantra sacred to Ganesha. All of these offerings can be infused with power through meditation on their subtle levels and significance.

Repetition of Mantra

Participants then begin the chosen mantra, such as "Om Ganapati Namah" which is repeated 108 times. During the mantra, each participant may, if desired, approach the altar or image in order to perform individual devotions to the God (making personal requests for granting boons or removing obstacles from their path, for example), afterwards returning to their place and continuing the mantra.

The Ganesha Upanishad

A reading of the Ganesha Upanishad closes the formal proceedings of the Puja.

Om Lam I bow to Ganesha
You are clearly the Tattva. You alone are the Creator. You alone are the Maintainer. You alone are the Destroyer. Of all this you are certainly Brahma.
You plainly are the essence.
Always I speak Amrita. The Truth I speak.
Protect me. Protect the speakers. Protect the hearers. Protect the givers. Protect the holders. Protect the disciple that repeats. Protect that in the East. Protect that in the South. Protect that in the West. Protect that in the North. Protect that above. Protect that below. Everywhere protect. Protect me everywhere!
You are Speech. You are Consciousness. You are Bliss. You are Brahma. You are Being-Consciousness-Bliss. You are the Non-Dual. You are plainly Brahma. You are Knowledge. You are Intelligence.
You create this world. You maintain this world. All this world is seen in you. You are Earth, water, Fire, Air, Aethyr. You are beyond the four measures of speech. You are beyond the Three Gunas. You are beyond the three bodies. You are beyond the three times. You are always situated in the Muladhara. You are the being of the three Shaktis. You are always meditated upon by Yogins. You are Brahma, you are Vishnu, you are Rudra, You are Agni, You are Vayu, You are the Moon, You are the Sun, You are Brahma, Bhur-Bhuvah-Svar.
'Ga' the first syllable, after that the first letter, beyond that 'm', then the half-moon all together. Joined with "Om" this is the mantra-form.
letter Ga the first form, letter a the middle form, m the last form. Bindu the higher form, Nada the joining together, Samhita the junction. This is the Vidya of Lord Ganesha.
Ganaka is the seer, Nricad-Gayatri the metre, Sri Mahaganapati the God. "Om Ganapataye Namah."
Let us think of the one-toothed, let us meditate on the crooked trunk, may that tusk direct us.
One tusk, four arms, carrying noose and goad, with His hands dispelling fear and granting boons, with a mouse as his banner.
Red, with a big belly, with ears like winnowing baskets, wearing red, with limbs smeared in red scent, truly worshipped with red flowers.
To the devoted a merciful Deva, the Maker of the World, the Prime Cause, who at the beginning of creation was greater than gods and men.
He who always meditates thus is a Yogin above Yogins.
Hail to the Lord of Vows, hail to Ganapati, hail to the First Lord, hail unto you, to the Big-Bellied, One-tusked, Obstacle-destroyer, the Son of Shiva, to the Boon-Giver, Hail, hail.
He who studies this Atharva Shira moves towards Brahma. He is always blissful. He is not bound by any obstacles. He is liberated from the five greater and the five lesser sins. Evening meditation destroys the unmeritorious actions of the night. At both evening and morning he is liberated from the bad and he attains Dharma-Artha -Kama and Moksha.
He who wants something may accomplish it by 1000 recitations of this. He who sprinkles Ganapati with this becomes eloquent. He who recites this on a 4th day becomes a knower of Vidya. This an Artharva saying "He who moves towards Brahma Vidya is never afraid." He who worships with fried grains becomes famous and becomes intelligent. He who worships with sweet-meat (modaka) gains the desired fruit. He who worships with samit and ghee by him all is attained, all is gained by him. He who makes eight Brahmanas understand this becomes like the sun’s rays. In a solar eclipse, in a great river, or in front of an image having recited this he gets accomplished in the mantra. He becomes liberated from great obstacles. He is freed from great misfortunes.

Closing

We like to close a puja by moving into diverse feasting and revels. Following the puja, any image created specifically for the rite may be immersed in one’s local stream or river. Making this a processional the following day can be a nice way of rounding off the puja.