It’s the time of the year in the Hindu Vedic Astrology when the sun ends its southward movement (dakshinayana) and begins its movement north (uttaranayana). Winter solstice is a festive time for many cultures around the world.
Hindus celebrate Pancha Ganapati, a five-day festival to the Hindu great angel Ganesha who is the Patron of Arts and Sciences, and the deity of Obstacles. It is a contemporary Hindu festival created by my guru, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, a few decades back to allow Hindus to be part of this natural season of worship, celebration, gift-giving and special time with loved ones.
The five days (December 21 to 25) focus on wrapping up the year, celebrating the present and joyfully welcoming the future. Each day has a sadhana, a spiritual practice, to be performed by each individual. Gifts are placed each day at the shrine to Ganesha and remain unopened till the evening of the last day.
Day 1 focuses on family. It’s a time to resolved misunderstandings and work with long-held hurts. Empathy, compassion, love and forgiveness should be expressed abundantly knowing that we are all works in progress. It’s also a time to express gratitude, appreciation and love to family members. The color for the day is yellow.
Day 2 focuses on creating love and harmony with friends, relatives and neighbors. Misunderstandings should be resolved lest we carry it into the future as burdensome unresolved emotional experiences. Gratitude, appreciation and love are expressed as well. The color for the day is blue.
Day 3 focuses on businesses associates, clients, employees, employers and the public at large. We thank those for giving us work and we thank those for working for/with us. We present gifts and express specific appreciation, settle all debts and disputes, and together vision a great future. The color for the day is red.
Day 4 focuses on culture and traditions. The subtle bedrock of a community that silently but surely guides and directs the forces of each of its members down the part of dharma, the mode of conduct most conducive to spiritual advancement. Music, art, drama and dance are joyously celebrated amongst family and friends who gather for the fourth day of this celebration. The color for the day is green.
Day 5 focuses on bringing love and blessings from all three worlds. Love and gratitude are expressed by each member of the family to Lord Ganesha for His wise guidance throughout the past year. It’s important that we don’t always approach the deities with requests and prayers only but that we also take time to express our love and appreciation for all their blessings, guidance and fulfillment of prayers. As generous and compassionate as the deities are to us we always must remember to be the same way towards others in the world. The color for the day is orange.
With softened hearts, infused with love, empathy, compassion and generosity; we look into the future on this last day of Pancha Ganapati. Filled with confidence in our ability to create and manifest, and transform our lives through self-effort we take a pledge in front of Ganesha setting clear inner and outer goals in our lives for the coming year.
Gifts are then opened, hugs given, food shared and enjoyed whilst holding strongly in our minds that “life is meant to be lived joyously”.
Happy Pancha Ganapati everyone!