Pancha Ganapati is a modern Hindu festival of the Five-Faced (pancha means “five”) Maha Ganapati – Lord of Categories. This festival falls during the month of December and lasts for five days – from December 21 through 25. Pancha Ganapati is a Hindu expression of the natural season of worship, gift giving and celebration.
Creating the Pancha Ganapati Shrine
Pancha Ganapati is a contemporary home observance. Because of the importance of this festival as a new beginning and mending of all mistakes of the past, a festive shrine is created especially for the five-day event in the main living room of the home. At the center of the shrine is placed a large wooden or bronze five-faced statue of Lord Pancha Ganapati. If this is not available, any large picture of Lord Ganesa will do. The home shrine is decorated in the spirit of this festive season. Lord Ganesa is often depicted as coming from the forest; therefore, pine boughs (or banana leaves) may be used. Durva grass, sugarcane and garlands of sweet modaka balls are used to decorate the home shrine. Flashing lights, tinsel and colorful hanging ornaments may also be added.
Pancha Ganapati is dressed anew each morning, preferably by the children, in a special color for that particular day. His five saktis are loved and adored by all members of the family. He appears in golden yellow on December 21. A regal gown of royal blue is presented to Him on December 22, and one of ruby red on the 23rd. On December 24 He appears in emerald green, and on the final day He comes forth in brilliant orange to bless all who visit Him, bestowing 365 days of wealth and abundance.
Note: Pancha Ganapati should be celebrated in a distinctly Hindu way. Christmas type decorations or symbols of other religions should not be used. Season’s greeting cards should be Hindu in design and content.
Pancha Ganapati Activities
Pancha Ganapati is a joyous time for the family and should include outings, picnics, holiday feasts and exchange of cards and gifts with relatives, friends and business associates. Each day a traditional offering tray of sweets, fruits and incense is offered to Pancha Ganapati, often prepared and presented by the children. Each day gifts are given to the children, who place them unopened before Pancha Ganapati for his blessings, to be opened only on the fifth day. After each puja, the sweets are given to all from the offering tray as prasada. Gifts need not be extravagant or expensive…handmade presents are by far the most precious.
During each of the five days of Pancha Ganapati, chants, songs, hymns and bhajanas are sung in His praise. Each day a different family sadhana is focused upon, as follows:
December 21 – Yellow
The family sadhana for the first day is to create a vibration of love and harmony among immediate family members. The family works together to decorate the shrine and the deity using the color yellow or gold. After puja is performed the family sits together for the purpose of easing any strained relationships that have arisen during the year. They make amends one with another for misdeeds performed, insults given, mental pain and injuries caused and suffered. When forgiveness is offered to all by one and all, they speak of each other’s good qualities and resolve that in the days ahead they will remember the futility of trying to change others and the practicality of changing oneself. As family harmony is important to all Hindus, this sadhana must be taken very seriously.
December 22 – Blue
The family re-decorates the shrine in blue and puja is performed. The sadhana for the second day of Pancha Ganapati is to create a vibration of love and harmony among neighbors, relatives and close friends and presenting them with heartfelt warmth. The sadhana of the day is to offer apologies and clear up any misunderstandings that exist. Relatives and
friends in far-off places are written to or called, forgiveness is sought, apologies made and tensions released.
December 23 – Red
The shrine is re-decorated in red for the third day and puja is performed. The family sadhana for the third day is to create a vibration of love and harmony among business associates, the casual merchant and the public at large. This is the day for honoring special merchants, customers, employers and employees with appreciation. The sadhana today is the settling of all debts and disputes.
December 24 – Green
The sadhana of day four is to draw forth the vibration of joy and harmony that comes from music, art, drama and the dance. The color for the day is green. The shrine is re-decorated in green and puja is performed. Family, relatives and friends gather for satsanga to share and enjoy their artistic talents. When the program is over, all sit together before Pancha Ganapati, Patron of the Arts and Guardian of Culture, discussing Hindu Dharma and making plans to bring more cultural refinements into each household.
December 25 – Orange
The family sadhana for the final day of Pancha Ganapati is to bring forth love and harmony within all three worlds. Because of sadhanas well performed during the first four days, the family is more open and is now aware of Ganesa’s Grace, and their love for Him is now overflowing. On this day His blessings fill the home and the hearts of everyone, inspiring them anew for the coming year. The shrine is decorated in orange and family members can make vows to improve the quality of their life, such as giving up smoking or correcting other harmful habits and individuals can give verbal testimony about prayers that were answered during the past year.
At six o’clock in the evening the long awaited final puja is performed. Peace, love and harmony among everyone has been restored. After the puja and before the great feast that follows, all gifts are distributed and joyously
opened. Lord Pancha Ganapati gives His final darsana and prasada to one and all.
Happy children. Happy parents. Happy God.
December 21 through 25
Dec. 21 – Yellow
Dec. 22 – Blue
Dec. 23 – Red
Dec. 24 – Green
Dec. 25 – Orange
Dec. 21 – Immediate family
Dec. 22 – Neighbors, relatives & close friends
Dec. 23 – Business associates and public
Dec. 24 – Culture – Art, Music, etc.
Dec. 25 – Receive Ganesa’s Grace for sadhanas well performed
Dayavati Murugan – 6/16/07