The first time I encountered the charming idea of Pancha Ganapati was
in a book of my husband's, Dancing with Siva by Satgugu Sivaya
Subramuniyaswami. It was described as a five-day festival of love and
gift-giving in honor of Ganesha and His Saktis...from December 21 to
December 25 in the Western calendar.
The book didn't go into much more detail than that, but I was sure it
had to be something that had been made up for Westerners. After all,
it wasn't even connected to the lunar calendar! Years went by and I
didn't think anything more of it. But recently, as a member of the
Sha'can tradition, my fondness for Ganesha has grown, and I've also
started seeing more references to Pancha Ganapati here and there on the
Web, so I decided to track down some information.
If it were something created just for the West out of whole cloth,
there would still be some decent reasons behind it. Ganesha, like
Jesus, is the beloved son of God (Lord Shiva in our case) and the Queen
of Heaven (Parvati): like Jesus, He is a generous and loving being who
helps us through our trials: and also like Santa, He is a jolly round
fellow who likes it when people leave Him cookies and milk! The
syncretism of "Yeah, well, we have a big holiday then, too! And it
happens that we can do the stuff from your holiday that we like!" will
be familiar to most modern Pagans.
But as I researched, I learned that although Pancha Ganapati is indeed
a holiday invented for the West (by Subramuniyaswami, some 20 years
ago, for his lineage but to be shared with other Western Hindus), it
does have a perfectly legitimate Hindu lineage as well. As it happens,
there is a tradition in Sri Lanka that the entire month of Markali (the
lunar month from December into January) is a festival in honor of
Ganesha as Pillaiyar, the "Noble Child." It is a particularly
important time for meditation and, to use a term from the wrong season,
"spring cleaning." Since the Christmas season falls right in the
middle of Markali, it is a natural transition for the Western lover of
Ganesha to marry Christmas to Markali Pillaiyar and get Pancha Ganapati!
The festival runs from December 21 to the 25th, and each day focuses on
a different level of Ganesha's power and blessings, each of which is
represented with a different color. It is considered to be a home- and
family-oriented event rather than a temple-oriented one. On the first
day, the color is yellow, and there is a focus on building love and
harmony within the family and the home.
On the second day, the focus
is on harmony with neighbors, relatives, and close friends, and the
color is blue.
On the third day, the color is red, and it is a day for
showing appreciation to co-workers, merchants and workers generally
(tip your barista!) and nurturing your ability to love the general
On the fourth day the color is green, and the focus is
celebration of the arts. The last day's color is orange, and the love
that has been built up is now extended to all three worlds...and yes,
you can open your presents now.
You can read more about this festival's origins and how to celebrate it
in the archives of Hinduism Today.
Join us in exploring the season...
Best wishes to all for a blessed Yule, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Chanukkah, and of course, Pancha Ganapati!
Learn more about upcoming offerings at our mandir >>
If you are able to contribute $25 or more,
You are a force of transformation.
Your love of creation gets you out
in the morning.
You align your spirituality and devotion
personal and planetary healing.
You see spirituality as a source of
By transforming yourself, you help transform the world.
make all the difference as we work to keep spirituality and a unique
spiritual expression of service viable in the world. At SHARANYA, our
Goddess Temple survives because of you, because of your support. For
all of the ways in which you love the Divine and make Her manifest, we
are deeply grateful.
There are many ways
for you to be a part of our mission and vision. You can come join with
us for worship. You can be with us in community. We also have many
ongoing projects fostered and facilitated by the generosity of our
growing community to which you can contribute or make a tax-deductible
donation. Read about our work and consider volunteering a special talent, skill, or making a tax-deductible offering today.
Even if you can't be with us in person, you can always join our puja in spirit through a contribution of flowers or Maa or Shiva...
we'll gladly send you a red "Jai Maa!" wristband to proudly wear in celebration of your devotion.
Thank you for your
commitment to making spirituality a vehicle for social justice and
life-affirming change. Thank you for helping the spread of Maa's love
in the world. Jai Maa!
Looking forward to seeing you at a puja, class, or commuity event soon!
Donate Now >>
New Class! Western Shakta Tantra
Devoted to Mahadevi
(The Great Goddess):
Ritual Practices of Sha'can and Shakta Tantra
An Introduction to Worship & Devotion of the Divine Mother
in a Western Tantrick Tradition
This three-part course is an introduction to worship and devotion of
Mahadevi, the Great Goddess of Hinduism, the all-pervading Shakti, and
Kali Maa, Dark Mother, the Supreme Goddess of Shakta Tantra.
Participants will learn the context and content of worship in the
living goddess tradition of Western Shakta Tantra called Sha'can.
basics, including how to honor Devi (Goddess) Kali at home, will be
taught. This offering may be particularly rewarding if you are
considering Daughters of Kali (open to women and men), are looking to
incorporate Kali worship or worship of other forms of the Divine Mother
from the Hindu tradition into your existing spiritual path, and/or are
seeking a fuller experience with your dedicated worship in community.
us to gain an understanding of Devi and Her various manifestations,
powerful and often mis-represented, through ritual, myth, historical
perspective, lecture, authentic Tantrick practices, readings and group
discussion. This series will culminate in a puja that participants
co-create from their recently-learned Sha'can perspectives as infused
with devotion born of personal sadhana (spiritual practice).
this course be your own mythic journey into and out of the
underworld...let the Goddess of the Crossroads take your hand and guide
you into an unfolding awareness of your Self as seen through Her eyes.
Classes require reading and participation to enhance the experience.
Come ready to engage Her mysteries!
Learn more about this and other class offerings... >>
This mantra is used
daily in our practice as a blessing and invitation to reconnect to
Spirit beyond conception, that which permeates all things.
It is a
powerful and sweet, sattvic (high vibrational) mantra that
brings us into harmony with Goddess in all the worlds. It recalls the
breath that moves through us, carrying the vital energies of prithvi (earth), apas ('jalam' or water), agni (fire), vayu (air), and akasha (ether)...
Read more and listen to the mantra >>
Our Community Welcomes You
Come sing and worship with us!
Interested in lending your love of Maa, your creativity, your inspiration to Kali Puja? Feel free to bring
us your ideas and energy. We have many ways for you to become
immediately and directly involved in a vibrant and growing spiritual
community, and look forward to your unique expression of joy in Her
name. We welcome your suggestions too; your experience, expertise, and
desire can inform many of the ways we do Her work in the world!
Click here to learn more about joining in the celebration of Her through SHARANYA!
And of course, stay in touch with us! Were you forwarded this newsletter by a friend?
Click here to receive your own newsletter! >>
Kali: Goddess of Social Justice (12/31) on Voices of the Sacred Feminine with Chandra Alexandre (interviewed by Karen Tate); 6pm. Listen...>>
Purnima (1/10) Full Moon - Evening of dhyana (meditation), spiritual teachings, and/or ceremony (Closed community celebration; extended spiritual family and guests welcome. Let us know if you would like to come: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Community Meeting (1/12) SHARANYA's organizational gathering, open to everyone, to discuss business, logistics, planning, and fun!
Yogini Chakra (1/17) (Closed circle for initiates)
Devoted to Mahadevi (The Great Goddess): Class One (1/22) (Open class... >>)
SHARANYA's Kali Puja (1/25) Open to everyone. Come join us in worship of the Divine Mother, Goddess Kali Maa, by all Her names! RSVP requested (and you can donate online to help support our regular public ceremonies and Goddess Temple project).
Amavasya (1/26) 7-9pm New Moon - Evening of dhyana
(meditation), spiritual teachings, and/or ceremony (Closed community
celebration; extended spiritual family and guests welcome. Location: Terra's Temple in Oakland. RSVP requested.)
And join us in the creation of ritual, art, poetry, and other forms of Magick and inspiration in Her name! We look forward to being with you in person, on line and in spirit in 2009. May the blessings of the Goddess be forever in your heart!
Learn more about the tradition that inspires our worship... >>
Our opening course, Devoted to Devi at Kali Vidya is currently waitlisted.
Join us as we come
together at Kali Vidya to explore through writings, poetry, reflection, discussion,
devotion, spiritual technologies and individual sadhana
(spiritual practice) the goddess-worshiping branch of Hinduism known as
Shakta Tantra, the earth-based spirituality of Witchcraft, and the
synchretism of faith called Sha'can...A Western Shakta Tantra.
Thank you to all who are participating this first time around!
If you would like to join our class, please sign up
and we will contact you for the next offering.
Our courses are designed to
help all spiritual seekers contextualize the ancient and living goddess
traditions within the socio-cultural and psycho-spiritual framework of
today's world, creating lived spaces for the Divine in all Her
forms...including those of the Sacred Masculine...in personal practice
If you seek community and want to learn more about SHARANYA's spiritual path, we welcome you to our first community offering, Devoted to Devi: Embracing Tradition, Walking the Path. Join this class in our open source, interactive online forum!
Click here to register >>
Answers to some of your most frequently asked questions... >>
Meet an Inner Council Member
We recently sat down with Nancy Leatzow, a Board Member, to talk about her participation in SHARANYA and wanted to share her thoughts and insights about the community, her service, and upcoming adventures for 2009 with you:
How long have you been on the Board of SHARANYA?
I joined in February of 2002.
What attracted you to this position and the organization?
I remember very well when Chandra invited me to be a part
of SHARANYA's Board, the Inner Council. I asked her, "Why me?", and she
replied, "You are a wise Elder, Nancy." It was a profound moment for me of realizing
that I had, in fact, reached an age where I was moving into the elder position.
I began to consider the joys and responsibilities of this period of my
life...that next stage after householder.
I was honored to become a part of the SHARANYA Board, as I
had been drawn to this work from my first meeting with Chandra (we met on
pilgrimage in Turkey).
Her story and vision were an inspiration and an invitation that I continue to
cherish. Being part of the Inner Council both supports the deepening of my
personal quest...pondering the meaning of life and my love of Maa...and
provides an opportunity to be of service. And also it's a joy!
What's your favorite part of being in the community?
I love being a part of the SHARANYA community. I experience the Daughers of Kali to universally embody the qualities of both youth and wisdom. The personal connections are sweet and the monthly pujas enhance my life and spiritual practice. It is an opportunity to express my devotion to Maa in a way that feels completely authentic, heart-felt, and held in the beautiful container of the community.
Can you give us a preview of what the future holds?
I am excited about what's currently happening at SHARANYA.
It seems the seeds have been well sown, and, to continue the metaphor, the
flowers are blossoming and expanding. In 2009, SHARANYA will be offering a
series of courses
and workshops to the public locally as well as expanding teachings
via the Internet through Kali Vidya, an on-line wisdom school. It
is beautiful that seekers who love or are curious about Maa are now able to
enroll in SHARANYA courses from anywhere on the planet.
And it's exciting that there are even more offerings in the Bay Area. As someone who lives in the East Bay, I'm really looking forward to the monthly full and new moon circles, many of which will be happening in Oakland. Thrilling!
Are there any other thoughts you wish to share?
SHARANYA is an authentic embodiment of the wisdom of East
Its lineage is clear and strong. Its membership is
devoted and committed. Its expansion is
inevitable. I am so happy to be a part of this inspired vision. Jai Maa!
Thank you, Nancy Maa, for all you do in service to your vision
of Maa in the world. Thank you and gratitudes for your
leadership and support in community!
Learn more about the Inner Council and Advisors...>>
Blessings of Maa for the Holidays and New Year!
Jai Mata Kali ki Jai!
May All Beings be Blessed
lokaha samastaha sukhino bhavantu...>>