Ganesh Puja

After Varalakshmi Vratham, comes Ganesh Chaturti or Vinayaka Chathurti or Chavithi .  It is celebrated on Chathurthi (the fourth day) after new moon  in the Tamil month, Aavani and Bhadrapada maasa in other calenders.Again, I would like to share how I celebrate this festival according to the method followed in our family.  There may be different methods followed in different families in various places in India.
Arugampul (Bermuda grass) and arali (oleander) are two of the most important offerings for Ganesh Chathurti celebrations.
This simple garland is my offering for Ganesh Puja.  A tuft of arugampul and two oleander flowers are placed together as shown, oleander above arugampul and strung into a garland following the usual method of stringing flowers.  
Erukkam Poo malai | different type for Pillai Chaturthi decoration
This garland is made by tying the flowers in a circle around the string 


Tie two flowers one up and one down at the centre of a string 


Place one flower with its stalk on the thread portion on the left side and bring  the right portion of the thread  around the stalk and left side of the thread ( in the image ) so that it holds the stalk and the left side of the thread


Place the next flower to the right of previous flower ,
bring the right side ( in the image ) of the thread  around the stalk and left portion of the thread

Continue this to get the length of the garland you want.  Tie the remaining both ends of the thread to hold all flowers together and cut the excess thread with a pair of scissors 
This decoration idea is demonstrated through steps in the images below.  I have chosen arugampul and sampangi.  Both are tied on one side only to get a semi circular shape.  The ends can be tied to get a circular shape garland that can be placed at the feet of Lord Ganesha.  If it is left in the semi circular shape it can be used to decorate the image of Lord Ganpathi.






We have our rose wood mantap that is used for Varalakshmi Vratham or Puja that is cleaned well and placed facing east.  Hridaya kamalam or Aishwarya (patra rangoli ) kolam is drawn on the base of the mantap.

Puja mandir decoration with rangoli
After cleaning the mandap or mandir, we usually draw the hridaya kamala kolam with a kaavi border traced with a cotton bud.  Then a plantain leaf ( nuni elai as we say in Tamil ) is placed on the kolam and then we rice  is placed on the leaf.  On this leaf we place the moorthy or image of Lord Ganesha of Ganpathi.  The images below show the steps.






 Then a banana leaf  (nuni ilai in Tamil ) is placed on the mantap and rice in placed on the leaf and the thoranam arrangement is similar to the one used for Varalakshmi Pooja.
  Traditional maavilai thoranam is more important that the artificial thoranam or thoran we make as a craft. Oraganize mango leaves of almost similar length as shown in the photo.  Then using a pair of scissors cut the stalks.  Then as shown in the second photo,fold the leaves around a string and staple them so that we get a toran with all elements of equal length.  A quick and easy way to make a mango leaf thoranam unlike the traditional method of making thoranam where we use the stalk to pierce the leaf so that it holds on to the string.  This may considered to be a modern and sophisticated method of making a thoranam



Though ready made thoranam made from coconut fronds are available the video in my channel Rangolisansdots for those who want try at least once - how to make a thoranam  
We can also make our own Ganesha idol  for celebration of the festival.    This is eco-friendly Ganesh murthi  or environment friendly and can be made easily at our homes. I have shown the basic idol , we can decorate further with paint etc.
One cup turmeric powder , half cup maida , two tea spoons of powdered sugar and one lemon.
To turmeric powder add maida and sugar , squeeze the lemon , sprinkle water as required,mix well to get the dough.  Maida makes the dough pliable and sugar and lemon juice  bind turmeric powder and  maida.   Take dough ball of different sizes to form the head , ears , crown arms ,  legs, body and trunk.  Attach them to get a Ganesha idol for Pooja decoration and celebration.  After four to five days the dough should  harden.

The image on the top I drew in front of Ganpati for Puja.  I used a rangoli stencil after a long time.  The central flower design was filled with one colour and the outer motif with blue.  Finally I added some colourful lines on the outside.In Tamil Nadu, the tradition is purchase a clay idol of Ganapthy and an umbrella, the idol is placed in the mantap and is decorated with plantain leaves and maavilai thoranam.
First we make a Ganesh (Pillaiyar) with turmeric mixed with water.  Pooja is performed to this Ganapathy first by rendering simple slokas or mantras or songs in the language of our choice. Sandalwood paste, turmeric and kumkum are applied and a nevedhiyam (or offering ) is done.  

The main idol is decorated with flower garlands, sacred thread. A coconut is placed near Lord Ganesh and on it turmeric and kumkum.  Sandal wood paste, turmeric and kumkum are applied to the forehead of Ganesha and is  adorned with  erukkampoo malai  (Calotropis ) and a cotton garland.  Archana is performed using flowers and arugampul (Bermuda grass )
 Turmeric is applied to the garland at the narrow areas.  A 21 ball cotton garland is used.Again we can recite slokas or songs according to our customs.(Where one does not get banana leaf, mango leaves etc. replicas may  be used)   Offerings to the main idol include fruits - bananas, wood apple, sugarcane, corn, coconut, betel leaves and nuts,  kheer or payasam amavadai and of course kozhukattai and modhakam.
How to make kozhukattai
Rice flour and water in equal proportions are taken.  Water is boiled adding a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon oil.  Rice flour is added to boiled water, the stove brought to "sim".  Stir continuously to avoid formation of lumps.  The colour changes to light brownish when it is completely cooked.  Allow it to cool.
Coconut puran or pooran is prepared with coconut and  jaggery - 1 measures coconut for 3/4 measure jaggery (approximate), a pinch of cardamom powder. Coconut and jaggery (powdered ) are heated in  a kadai (vessel) , after adding a teaspoon of ghee,   Stir well till  it does not stick to the vessel.  Place the coconut puran inside the  dough and make the required shapes - kozhukattai or modhakam. - and cook with steam.
wheat flour kozhukattai / godhumai kozhukattai
Wheat flour kozhukattai is one of the simplest because traditional rice flour kozhukattai and modak can be difficult for some to prepare .  The dough made from rice flour can give away when stuffing the puran.  
Prepare coconut puran as explained above.  Prepare dough with wheat flour as we do for chapati or poori.  Roll the dough in the shape of a small poori , keep the puran inside and close the edges .
Fry in oil .  Easy fried kozhukaatai is ready.





Different varieties of kozhukattai - godhumai , maida and arisi maavu

Maida kozhukattai and maida modak
The next variety or type of kozhukattai that may be useful for naivedyam is made from maida.  It is easy to make with maida both kozhukattai and modak because it is pliable and  hence can be formed into most shapes easily.  
For one cup maida take half a cup water.  Heat water in a vessel , add one teaspoon of maida dissolved in little water and when the water turns to boil add the cup of maida and stir well.  Stirring should be continuous to avoid solid pieces in the dough.  After mixing thoroughly close the vessel for five minutes.  Then take out the dough , form into the shapes of kozhukattai and modak , place the puran inside , close the edges and steam cook in a cooker.






Rice  flour kozhukattai / arisi maavu kozhukattai
This is the traditional  method of making a kozhukattai.  For one cup rice flour heat one and quartr cup water.  While the water is getting heated , add rice flour  ( one  tea spoon ) mixed in water and allow the water to boil , when it  turns to boil add the one cup rice flour and  stir well and continuously.  Switch off the stove , close the vessel with a lid for five minutes.  Then take out the dough and prepare the kozhukattai.  


kozhukattai maavu payasam
Using the rice flour dough we make a payasam also.  Roll the dough into small spheres and steam cook.  Boil milk with sugar , add these spheres and cook.  Add cardamom powder and cashews fried in ghee.  Quick and easy payasam for Pillaiyar Chaturthi ( Sathurthi in Tamil ) is ready for naivedyam.


Ganesh Chaturthi Naivedyam recipe
A simple and easy naivedyam for Ganesha Chaturthi is called meva or mewa.  It is made from puffed rice, powdered jaggery , grated coconut and cardamom powder.  Soak puffed rice in water for ten minutes and then drain the water.  Add grated coconut. jaggery to taste and cardomom powder and mix well.  The offering is ready for Lord Ganapathi and is very tasty also.  This naivedyam is usually prepared with coconut that is placed beside the clay image of Lord on the day of Visarjan. However this can also be offered for Lord Ganesha along with kozhukattai since it is easy to prepare.




We can also include some special decorations to celebrate the festival.  I make  this cotton craft garland
for this Puja and Navratri celebrations.  A long piece of cotton is pulled to make a ball at regular intervals.  Using a pair of scissors cut to get three pieces with a pair each.  Place them one above the other and stick all the three pairs with a decorative element (green in the garland on the right ).  Now stick this on the garland base.  Repeat the steps to get the garland in the image. The steps showing how to do it through a video is available in my YouTube channel . The steps are explained in details through the series of photos and detailed explanation below.

It is natural, that we try to innovate, try something different and the result is the variation of cotton garland shown below.  Follow the method shown above to get the garland as shown in the first photo.  Using a pair of scissors cut the garland so that we get three pairs of cotton spheres as shown in the second image.  Place the first pair of spheres on the floor or table. Apply a drop of adhesive and place the second pair on top of the first ( at right angles ).  Now place the third pair of cotton spheres on the second after applying adhesive at an angle so that we get a shape similar to a six petal flower.  Allow the three pairs of cotton spheres to stick well.  Now on a golden or silver coloured lace apply adhesive and place the six petal cotton flower ! one by one as shown in the fourth image.  We can use any other material suitable for forming this garland.  This garland can be further decorated with colourful chamkis as shown. They can be of the same colour, or different colours or alternate flowers may have same colours, the choice is ours according to our imagination. This variety of cotton garland can be used for regular decoration in addition to special occasions or puja while the former type of cotton garland is used only for puja.  




               The day before Ganesh Chathurthi is celebrated as Hartalika Vratha or Hartalika Teej or Gowri Puja in some parts of India. It is said that Goddess Parvathi performed this Vratha.  An image of Gowri is worshipped. It is done in different methods in different parts of India.  Offerings include fruits particularly wood apple, kheer.   Some fast after the puja.

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