Sankatahara Chaturthi is the fourth day of the waning lunar phase after the full moon. Sankashti means liberation during difficult times and therefore observing this fast is believed to reduce problems and seek the blessings of Lord Ganesh. If Sankashti Chaturthi falls on Tuesday, it is known as Angaraki Chaturthi or Angaraka Chaturthi. Angaraki is the other name of Mangal or Kuja or Chevaai or Bhauma (planet Mars).
Traditionally, Kozhakattai or modak are made on this day.
Sankata literally means “problems or worries” and Hara means “removing or eliminating”, therefore Sankata Hara Chadurthi or Sankatahara Chadurthi is a day to invoke the blessings of Lord Ganesh to remove all problems in life.
How to perform Sankashti Chaturthi Puja & Vrat?
Devotees observe fast for the whole day and conclude it after moonrise. After taking a bath in the evening, Lord Ganesh is worshipped with Durva (a variety of very fine grass). Aarti is taken and the Naivedyam is offered to Lord Ganesha. Then Lord Moon is worshipped and the fast is broken by offering meal to Brahmin. Reciting prayers of Lord Ganesh form an important part of the Sankashti fast. Ganesh Gayatri, Ganesh Ashtothram Shatanamavali (108 Names), and Ganesh Atharvashirsha Avartan are the main mantras recited while observing Ganesha Sankatahara Chaturthi Vrata. Observing this fast brings happiness and fulfills one’s desires.
I used to stay on fasting till the pooja gets over, and complete my fasting with the Modak, and appam, that I prepare on this day!
1 1/2 cups rice flour
1 cup water
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup jaggery
1 cup water
Heat water in a pan. When it begins to boil, add the jaggery and cardamom. Let it get melted and stay for about 15 mins. Once jaggery is completely melted and we have got good consistency, now add the coconut. If it is watery, add some more coconut. Stir fry for some more time.
Now In another pan, bring water to boil. Once the water is boiling, turn off the stove. Add a pinch of salt, before you add the rice flour. Now knead it well to get a soft mass.
Once it is done, make small balls from the dough. And now make cone shapes out of the balls. Stuff the poornam inside the cones and close it by the same dough. (see to that the dough is thick enough to hold the entire poornam. Otherwise, while cooking poornam might come out). Now place this on the idli cooker and cook for 3-4 mins.
Cool it for 5 mins and remove to the plates.
1 cup rice (soaked in water for 1 hr)
1/4 cup jaggery
1/2 banana (small yellow banana from indian store)
Oil for frying
Grind the rice after draining the water. Once it has become soft, add the jaggery to it and grind again. Finally, add the banana to the mixer and grind completely.
Heat oil in a kadai, and slowly with the help of a deep round spatula, pour 1/2oz in the oil. ( i do not have the appa kara, so used to deep fry in oil this way). Turn to the other side and fry. Once it turn golden brown, remove to a tissue to drain the excess oil. Repeat this until no dough is left. If you like, you sprinkly 2 tspn of ghee on the appams. ( I did not want, as this was heavy as such!)
When I made the Modak, I always make more of the rice dough simply to make kara kozhakatai.
With the left over Modak dough, add some idli powder (or salt & chilli powder) to your taste. Make small round balls, and boil in idli cooker for 4 mins. Then, cool for 5 mins and remove from the cooker.
(While cooking the Modaks, it is always required to add some oil to the idli plates so that the Modaks do not stick).
Enjoy the festival in whatever measure you plan to celebrate and spread that smile on your face to everyone around you :)