Pancha Ganapati is a festival created in 1985 by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, as a celebration to offer Hindu families a way to participate in the holiday season without compromising their Hindu values. It runs from December 21st to 25th, honouring Lord Ganesh, patron of Arts and Guardian of Culture. The idea is that family members work together, in forgiveness and good spirit, and bring Lord Ganesh’s blessings of joy and harmony into five realms of their lives, welcoming in a wider circle of their lives each day: family, friends, associations, culture, and religion.

The family creates a shrine in the living room, decorated for the occasion. In the center is a large wooden or bronze five-faced statue of Lord Pancha Ganapati, a form of Ganesh, and each morning the children dress and decorate the statue in the colour of the day: yellow, blue, red, green, and orange. These colours represent his five shaktis, his powers.  Each day, they place a tray of sweets, fruits, and incense, sing songs and chants, and give gifts to the children to open on the fifth day.

Each day has its own significance, and corresponding colour. December 21st is yellow, and the day is dedicated to love and harmony among the immediate family. Family members will apologize to each other for past transgressions, give forgiveness, and exchange gifts. December 22nd is blue, dedicated to neighbours, relatives, and close friends, and clearing up any existing tensions. December 23rd is red, dedicated to business associates and the public; December 24th is green, dedicated to music, art, drama, and dance; and December 25th is orange, dedicated to charity and religiousness. On the 5th day, the gifts are opened, and love and harmony is in abundance in all the circles of the family’s life, giving them a fresh start for the new year!

Check out how to made Vadai for your celebrations in our recipe box!

– Emily Hotton