I totally love Ganesha! I mean, seriously, I love Ganesha. I can’t describe how in love with Ganesha I am. It’s not just because of what He’s done for me, either. Ever since I did my first Puja, my life has drastically changed. Doors have opened that I never would’ve dreamt about a year ago. I have a job in a completely different field (Nursing is my primary, so it isn’t in Nursing) making more money than I would’ve been making as an entry-level Licensed Practical Nurse. My relationship has changed, as well, in ways I could’ve never imagined (good ways – great ways!).
And if you’ve read my previous blog at all (sadly, I couldn’t keep the archives when I changed the domain name), you probably know that I’ve been honoring Ganesha in my personal practice for right around 4 months or so. Not very long at all.
But because I posted about the new blog on Facebook, a fellow Spiritual Worker on Facebook asked a question: how do you do puja to Ganesh?
In all honesty, I did a Google search on it when I started honoring Ganesh. I watched videos on YouTube and I read booklets (illustrated and not) put out by various Hindu organizations. Here’s the one I originally found very instructive. Home Puja from Hinduism Today, Apr/May/Jun 2006 Issue
Now, while I did learn the largest part of the guide I just linked you to, I only followed it precisely for a few weeks. It wasn’t long before I was unable to keep up. Daily Puja is difficult to do when you’re an American. And it’s not because Americans are lazy (though must inarguably are), but because we’re busy. Our work schedules and family schedules and errand schedules and … well, you get the picture. Life keeps us busy. We’re not Monks on a mountaintop (no matter how much some of us might like to be).
So I somewhat Wiccan-ized it. Or, I guess the term really is Americanized it. Or just say modified, if it makes you feel better.
When I first awakened my Ganesh image (a poster printed from the internet and framed), I did perform the full Puja. And I also prayed from my heart a few times during the Puja, inviting Ganesh into His image to come live with us.
By Wiccanized/Americanized/modified, I mean that I merely started doing a much simpler version of the Puja. Because I couldn’t get the right flowers in the right colors and I didn’t have the traditional implements necessary, I simply made due with what I had. And to this day, it doesn’t seem that Ganesha minds. I like to think it’s because He’s a very tolerant and loving Deity, but also because I made sure to ask Him to forgive my not knowing how to properly perform the Puja the way His original culture performs it. (I no longer ask His forgiveness for that – Ganapati has made it quite clear to me that any action taken or offering given or ritual performed in love is welcomed and encouraged.)
So what I did was this: I decided to use the four elements as the basis for my offerings and Puja performance. And I would chant a Ganesha mantra prior to each offering.
So after bathing and putting on clean clothing, my Ganapati Puja goes something like this:
- Stand in front of the altar and chant, “Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha.” (I do this about 7 times, usually. This is also the Mantra you will use between each offering, where you see -mantra- below.)
- Light a stick of incense. Circle it in front of the image clockwise three times. Say: “Great Ganapati, I offer you the sweet savory aroma of this incense for your pleasure and enjoyment.” -mantra-
- Light a candle. Circle it in front of the image clockwise three times. Say: “Great Ganapati, I offer you the light of this flame that your way may be lit clearly before you, and I offer you the heat of this flame so that you may stay comfortable when it is chilly.” -mantra-
- Pour some water in a small dish. Circle it three times in front of the image clockwise. Say: “Great Ganapati, I offer you this fresh water for quenching your thirst.” -mantra-
- Pour some more water in a small dish. Circle it three times in front of the image clockwise. Say: “Great Ganapati, I offer you this fresh, clear water that you may bathe as you see fit.” -mantra-
- Take your food offering and place it in a dish. Circle it three times in front of the image clockwise. Say: “Great Ganapti, I offer you this ____ for your sustenance and nourishment, but also for your pleasure and enjoyment.” -mantra-
- Take a small amount of water and mix it with the ground sandalwood (preferably red sandalwood), just enough so that it’s pasty. You don’t want it too thin because you want it to stay on the forehead of the image. Take a small amount on the tip of your finger and place it on the Third Eye area of the image. Say: “Great Ganapati, may you be forever blessed by us, and us by you, and may you forever feel welcomed and at home with us.” -mantra-
Once you’ve finished all of this, just leave everything for a while. Sit and meditate. Contemplate Ganesh. Enjoy His presence. If you’ve taken the time to perform a full-on Puja at least once with your image/statue of Ganesh, it’s very likely that it’s been quickened (in other words: Ganesha’s presence can be felt when you approach the image/statue).
Once the incense goes out, you may extinguish the candle for later reuse. I usually use tea-lights, so I let them burn out on their own if I’m going to be around. Also, note that it’s okay to eat the food offering you’ve given to Ganesh. I know that Ganesha (and maybe most, if not all, of the Hindu deities) encourage us to eat the foods we’ve offered them because it becomes instilled with their essence.
And that’s pretty well it.
There’s also another resource you might like. It’s a book called Loving Ganesh, by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. Don’t go to Amazon and pay the shady hos trying to sell it there. You can get it for free at the Himalayan Academy’s website >>> Loving Ganesh at the Himalayan Academy.
Honoring Ganesh is not difficult. As I’ve already mentioned, He’s very tolerant, quite laid-back and easy-going. Almost as much (if not as much as) Kwan Yin (whom I’ve honored since high school). If you’re really into laid-back, fun deities who can open doors you’ve never dreamed of, Ganesh is probably one you should be checking out. No joke.