Sankashti Chaturthi is a special day of the month in the Hindu calendar when Ganesha’s devotees invoke His blessings to rid themselves of problems and impediments. This sacred time falls on the fourth day after the full moon.
“Sankata” in Sanskrit means difficulty, crisis or obstacle, while “hara” refers to removal or elimination. On this day, devotees fast from morning until moonrise. In the evening, after a ritual bath, Ganesha is worshipped with sacred Durva grass. Devotees recite His prayers – the Ganesha Gayatri, the Ashtothram Shatanamavali (His 108 names) and the Ganesha Atharvashirsha Avartan. The moon is also worshipped with offerings of flowers and sandalwood paste.
On Sankashti Chaturthi, Ganesha temples close down about an hour before moonrise. The idol is bathed with milk and rosewater to the chants of Vedic prayers. Ganesha is offered steamed modaks and His other favored foods.
Performing this puja is believed to liberate the worshipper’s soul from the cycle of birth and death.