‘Ganesha Habba’ (Ganesha festival) is round the corner. I remember the days when my father used to tell me to tie the ‘Thorana’ (made by stringing of Mango leaves) to the chair which would temporarily become Ganesha’s ‘Asana’. The wooden chair would be washed and decorated, as I told, by tying the ‘Thorana’, ‘Baale kambha’ (plaintain leaves) and flowers. There would be a serial set around the arms of the chair. The lord would grace the Asana on the day of the festival. ‘Garike’ (Grass), which is very dear to Ganesha, Modaka (dish), another favourite of the lord, fruits, and other pooja items would be kept in front of the lord. After the recitation of the hymns and the ‘Mahamangalarathi’ (waving the Sacred light in front of the lord), my father would distribute the prasada to all of us. After the ‘Dhoopa-deepa-naivedya’, I would then be made to sing a few songs and stotras.
Of all the stotras on Ganesha, I particularly love the Ganesha Pancharathna composed by Adi Shankaracharya. My mother taught this when I was still a toddler. I have sung this on numerous occasions, but the first time I sung it in public was at the Shringeri Shankar Mutt in Shankarpuram. I won the first prize after singing it in a competition held by the Mutt. I liked it more when I heard the musical genius MS sing this stotra.
Mudakaraatha Modakam Sada Vimukti Saadhakam
Kalaadharaavatamsakam Vilasiloka Rakshakam
Anaaya Kaika Naayakam Vinasitebha Daityakam
Nataasubhasu Naashakam Namaami Tham Vinaayakam
Meaning: I prostrate before Lord Vinaayaka who joyously holds modaka in His hand, who bestows salvation, who wears the moon as a crown in His head, who is the sole leader of those who lose themselves in the world. The leader of the leaderless who destroyed the elephant demon called Gajaasura and who quickly destroys the sins of those who bow down to Him, I worship such a Lord Ganesh.
Natetaraati Bheekaram Navoditaarka Bhaasvaram
Namat Suraari Nirjanam Nataadhi Kaapa Duddharam
Suresvaram Nidheesvaram Gajesvaram Ganeshvaram
Mahesvaram Samaasraye Paraatparam Nirantaram
Meaning: I meditate eternally on Him, the Lord of the Ganas, who is frightening to those not devoted, who shines like the morning sun, to whom all the Gods and demons bow, who removes the great distress of His devotees and who is the best among the best.
Samasta Loka Samkaram Nirasta Daitya Kunjaram
Daredarodaram Varam Vare Bhavaktra Maksharam
Krupaakaram Kshamaakaram Mudaakaram Yasaskaram
Manaskaram Namaskrutaam Namaskaromi Bhaasvaram
Meaning: I bow down with my whole mind to the shining Ganapati who brings happiness to all the worlds, who destroyed the demon Gajasura, who has a big belly, beautiful elephant face, who is immortal, who gives mercy, forgiveness and happiness to those who bow to Him and who bestows fame and a well disposed mind.
Akimchanaarti Marjanam Chirantanokti Bhaajanam
Puraari Poorva Nandanam Suraari Garva Charvanam
Prapancha Naasha Bheeshanam Dhananjayaadi Bhushanam
Kapola Daana Vaaranam Bhajaey Puraana Vaaranam
Meaning: I worship the ancient elephant God who destroys the pains of the poor, who is the abode of Aum, who is the first son of Lord Shiva (Shiva who is the destroyer of triple cities), who destroys the pride of the enemies of the Gods, who is frightening to look at during the time of world’s destruction, who is fierce like an elephant in rut and who wears Dhananjaya and other serpents as his ornaments.
Nitaantikaanta Dantakaanti Mantakaanta Kaatmajam
Achintya Rupa Mantaheena Mantaraaya Krintanam
Hrudantarey Nirantaram Vasantameva Yoginam
Tameka Danta Meva Tam Vichintayaami Santatam
Meaning: I constantly reflect upon that single tusked God only, whose lustrous tusk is very beautiful, who is the son of Lord Shiva, (Shiva, the God of destruction), whose form is immortal and unknowable, who tears asunder all obstacles, and who dwells forever in the hearts of the Yogis.
Mahaaganesa Pancharatnam Aadarena Yonvaham
Prajapati Prabhaatake Hrudi Smaran Ganesvaram
Arogatham Adoshataam Susaahitim Suputrataam
Samaahitaayu Rastabhootim Abhyupaiti Sochiraat
Meaning: He who recites this every morning with devotion, these five gems about Lord Ganapati and who remembers in his heart the great Ganesha, will soon be endowed with a healthy life free of blemishes, will attain learning, noble sons, a long life that is calm and pleasant and will be endowed with spiritual and material prosperity.
Wish you all a very happy Gowri-Ganesha festival (which is on August 26 and 27). May god bless us all.