Sankashthi Chaturhthi or just
'Sankashthi' means that fourth day of the moon's phase which occurs in the dark fortnight in every month. This day assumes greater importance when this Chaturthi falls on Tuesday,
when it is called Angarak Chaturthi. Otherwise any Chaturthi falling on any other day is called 'Sankashthi'. Alternatively it is also called Vinayaki Chaturthi in some parts of
According to the Pauranic dictates on this day the devotee should keep fast and should break this fast on the next day, i.e. on Panchami. During the fast, visit to a temple of Lord
Ganesh, listening to the tales connected with Lord Ganesh's worship should be listened to with full devotion.
The Ganesh Puran extols the glory of this fast and says that one who keeps fast on this day had his all obstacles removed by the grace of Lord Ganesh and gets all his desires
fulfilled. There are many legends mentioned in the same Puranas to extol the virtues of keeping fasts on Sankashthi Chaturthi. Sankashthi literally means end of the afflictions or
distress. Some of the tales are mentioned below :
(a) Raja Kritveerya was a 'Shoodra' in his previous life and used to stoop to the meanest level to keep his family well-fed. One day he slayed a brahman named Sham in his attempt to
extract some money from the brahman's pocket. Having killed the brahman, he returned home on the Magh (Dec.-Jan.) Chaturthi (dark half) day. As his good luck would have it, he has a
son named Ganesh. Owing to his fighting with that brahman and caring for the safety of the money lie had usurped, he had not eaten any thing that day. When reaching home, he called his
son Ganesh. Since he was also badly wounded in his fight with the brahman, he expired as soon as he gave that money to his son. But since he had kept fast on that day out of sheer
compulsion and called the name 'Ganesh', his all sins were redeemed and in the next birth he got the birth in a king's house and later himself bacame the king Kritveerya. Although he
was a powerful king in this life and had a devoted wife called Sugandha, the royal couple had one great shortcoming that they had no son. On the advice of the priests the couple
performed many severe penance but in vain. Dejected, both of them had left their kingdom and repaired to jungle to waste away their life. When Narad saw them in that sorry state,
he informed the king's departed father, residing in heaven, Brahmadeva who made Narad convey his message that the king should keep fast on the Sankashthi Day to get a son. The king,
Kritveerya did so and had his wish fulfilled eventually.
The same Purana says that one should keep fast on this day with determination for one or twenty one years. It says that the merit of such a vow could make even the Destiny change its
course to get the devotee his desired boon.
The procedure to start this Vrata is to begin it after morning ablutions and keep fast. On this day the aspirant should keep quiet and shun violence and dishonesty. On this day helping
a distressed person gives additional merit. No intoxicating material should be consumed on this day. Remembering the twelve names of Lord Ganesh and doing his worship is recommended.
In the evening, before the rise of the moon, the aspirant should rub his body with the paste of Aanwala (Emblic mynobalan) and til (sesame seeds) powder and then after taking bath
should perform the 'Ganesh-poojan' Chanting the 'sixteen mantras, and with 21 earthen lamps, 21 flowers and 21 doorva (grass twigs). Then the aspirant should offer water to the
rising moon and pray Lord Ganesh to grant his wish. Those who want their enemies to be slain or the troubles removed must have the 'Prasadam' of 21 laddoos out of which one 'laddoo'
must be salty. Then ending the fast, one should eat those laddoos as his main food. The remainder of the laddoos should be fed to a cow. The 'Ganesh Purana' says that if the
completion of the fast is accomplished under a 'Shami' tree then a blind man gets his vision restored, a dumb man speaks again and a lame gets power to walk unhampered.
When one gets one's desire fulfilled, the fast should be continued even for five to seven months more. Only then the Cessation of the Fast (Udyapan) should take place