Navaratri – Day 0 – Ganesha Yagya

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Technically today is not part of Navaratri (thus Day 0) but we are spending the time doing a big Ganesha Yagya. He is, after all, the remover of obstacles and the Lord of Beginnings. So we are going to begin the Navaratri program in the best way possible, with an entire day for Ganapati.

The priests have been working overtime assembling all the traditional ingredients for the nine day Navaratri sequence. Even Ganesha has eight special ingredients as seen below:

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These are a fried sweet called modaka; batter on the outside and raw sugar (jaggery) and toasted coconut on the inside. Great for Ganesha’s legendary love of sweets. Next is fresh pomegranate seeds. Dried coconut cut into slices (below) and fresh sugarcane.

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Below is what I think is vibhuti (sacred ash associated with Shiva) and on the right sesame seeds that will be mixed with honey before being offered into the yagya fire.

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This is a special kind of grass that is a particular favorite of Ganesha, but I don’t know the proper name for it. On the right you see the bags of modaka (1008 are offered) and two bags, one of puffed rice and one of pounded rice.

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After the Ganesha pujas at the beginning of the day, the routine is to perform Rudra Abishekam and Navagraha Puja for the nine planets, but particularly the planet and nakshatra of the day. Here you see the little murties; two Ganeshas, a Subramanyam, Shiva lingam, Vishnu is the form of a shaligram, a Meru and a copper yantra for the nine planets. The abishekam takes close to 2 hours because the entire Sri Rudram, Chamakam, Navaragra, Purusha Suktam, and Durga and Sri Suktams are chanted.

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We started at 8 AM and by now it is past 10:30 so the priests take a break to recover their voices before starting the mantra japa.

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The fire ceremony (havan or homam) will be covered in my next post……