Significance of “Patri” Pooja For Ganesh Chaturthi
One of the major ritual of the pooja on the Ganesh Chaturthi is the ‘Patri pooja’ At least 21 different plants (up to 108) “Patri” are typically used. The list of plants used may differ slightly from one region to another – locally available medicinal plants are used. Let us explore the stories and benefits behind the ‘Patri’ Pooja.
The story on garika puja (Dhurvayugmam) goes like this. Yamadharmaraju had a son by name Analasurudu, with fire as primary character. He went around fighting with devatas and thus Indra approaches Ganapthi for help. Like his father Shiva who swallowed “halahalam”, Ganesha swallows Analasura. Analasura starts creating fire in the stomach and devatas try to cool Ganesha by covering with lotus leaves and spary amrit, but no relief. Then they approach the primordial god Shiva, who suggest them to cover Ganesha with 21 garika twigs and the result was instant.
Another story on patri pooja is –
Shiva and Parvati were playing chess and as a witness they create a boy made of garika. He would always take side of Shiva and out of anger Parvati curses him that he would become blind. On prayer, mother suggests the panacea that during the forthcoming Bhadrapada shudha chaviti (Vinayaka Chaviti) nagakanyas come to kailash for prayers during which time you take upadesham (wisdom) and get relieved from the curse.
One day Naradha muni visits Jananka maharaja’s (Sita’s fatherin Ramayan) assembly but was not treated properly. That hurts his ego and prays Ganesha to teach him a lesson. Suddenly a person comes to Janaka’s assembly and enquires “whether he has the power to feed this hungry person”. Janaka boasts that he has the power and resources to feed the universe. They start the kitchen and fail to satisfy the Ganesha’s hunger. Then the persons asks Janaka, “you boasted that you are the brahma (creator) but failed to feed one person”. Brahma by nature creates the food first and then the life form, for example the cow’s udder is filled with milk (udder is prepared to produce milk), before the calf is borne. There is one person in your kingdom, who can satisfy my hunger and goes to a poor family for food. They submit that they have only the garika for Ganapathi puja, which they offer to Ganesha. Ganesha’s hunger instantly gets relieved and appears in full form and blesses them.
- Why 21 – Our body is believed to consist of 5 “tatva” elements and 16 “indriya” organs – 21. hence 21 Patri puja is believed to be a symbolic offering of our complete self to Ganapati – an act to remind us to keep our ego in check.
- And the 21 herbs/plants used have digestive and skin related medicinal benefits. Local water source (nearby river) was used for drinking/bathing purposes. “Patri” immersion helped transfer some of the medicinal benefits to the water source. Handling these plants (touch, smell) also helped build immunity to (rainy) seasonal ailments.
- This ritual was used as a means to educate the younger generation about the medicinal benefits of these plants.
- 10 plants symbolise the dasavataras of Vishnu and 11 avataras of Shiva, hence Ekavishanti (21) puja is cherished by Lord Ganesha.
Science behind the worship with Patri
Essence is garika has the medicinal properties to deal with stomach ailments like indigestion, acidity, piles, etc. In addition, garika cures the skin diseases, problems of trachea (swasa), indigestion (paityam), kapha dosha. Similarly pomegranate is cures common problems of rainy season like diariah, decentry, stomach infections. Vishnukranta patram cures the common fevers and stomach upsets. Same is true with all 21 plants chosen for patri puja. They cure the common health problems prevalent during the rainy season. Tradition is hence built that these plants are offered to god and kept for 9/7/5/3 days in puja mandir and immersed in the local pond, thus purifying the home and the sole source of drinking water for people and animals in the village.
Elders taking the children to the field for the purpose of collection of patri is the experiential learning devised by our elders for passing on the knowledge of plant identification, their conservation and usage. Patri puja is essentially built for treasuring the indigenous traditional knowledge of these plants. The 21 types of leaves are offered to Lord Ganesha during the festival, and each leaf has an ayurvedic significance.-
Machi is used for curing skin diseases like leprosy and leucoderma, nervous diseases and abdominal related diseases.
Brihati is used for asthma, cough, constipation, and used for women during post natal period.
Bilva, which purifies water, is used for dysentery.
Durva grass skin is helpful in arresting bleeding, anemia,
Badari is used for digestive disorders, wounds and injuries, in treating blood impurities, and maintaining the voice.
Dattura is used for treating joint pains, abdominal, skin diseases, and hair fall. More importantly it is widely used in treating poisonous bites.
Apa marga used for digestive disorders and poisonous bites
Tulsi is used for digestive disorders and respiratory diseases respectively.
Choota or mango leaves, are helpful in treating diabetics, and for cracked heals and throat related diseases.
Karaveera is used for treating leprosy, wounds, injuries and hair fall.
Vishnu kranta patra is used for nervous related diseases and memory power
Daadimi is used for dysentery.
Devadaru is used for wounds and scars
Maruvaka are used for joint pains and skin diseases
Sindhuvara is used for Vata and as antidote to poisonous drugs
Jaajji is used for mouth related issues and indigestion
Shami is used for Respiratory issues
Aswatham people use the bark of this tree to make many medicines and and this is also used to stop bleeding
Arjuna used for Joint Pains, Septic infections, heart related issues, Vata Pita Kapha related issues
Jilledu is used for Skin infections, Poisonous bites, leprosy, tumours, it has 64 medicinal uses
Gandaki Patram is used for piles and skin irritation
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