It is the days of Vinayaka Chaturthi.. Therefore I would like to share some thoughts about Ganapathi Homam.. There are very elaborate Homas with a lot of ingredients in the Homadravya, including gold and gems being offered to Ganapthy invoked in fire. Simultaneously an elephant is given sweet naivedyam, and a brahmachari, or a few of them, are fed. These are all the macro aspects and the ostentatious ceremonies we either see or read about. Some say Ashtadravyas, coconut, jaggery, ghee, puffed rice, gingely, sugarcane, ganapathy naranga and plantain (some include honey) makes homam great. But a for a simple Ganapathy Homam we require three important aspects. Kaalam, moolam and lolam.. The timing, the whole aahuuti should have been offered and received by the lord before sunrise... in the Brahma muhoortam, moolam—the exalted moolamanthra should be used for offering aahuti...this has to be learnt from an initiated guru, and the coconut pieces should be as this as possible so that the Lord relishes every bit of it... Kaalam, moolam, lolam ennaal kaanaam kolam,(കാലം മൂലം ലോലം എന്നാല് കാണാം കോലം) goes a Malayalam saying on this. The simplest Ganapthy Homam can be performed like this. A simple fire with coconut fibre, shells, pieces of firewood from Plavau, and such noble trees, samith etc should be lighted. First, before the lighted lamp, the coconut should be cracked, and if the pieces come in symmetry, it is a sign that the Lord is pleased. Without further breaking the shell the kernel should be extracted and cut into very thin crescent shaped wafers. Powdered jaggaery ( three palam for one coconut) should be added. Ghee also should be added to the extent of one palam ( a palam പലം will be equal to about 100gms) These three ingredients are sufficient. All others are optional. With the homadravyam ready, we have to prepare a padmam. Ganesha padmam is complicated. So to the side of the fire we can prepare a swasti padmam with rice and turmeric powder. When padmam is ready and the fire is also ignited, we have to start the puja.. Kalasa, sankha, aatma peeda poojas have to be performed. Then with the manthra..gananaam twa.. we should invoke Mahaganapathy on fire as well as on the swastipadma. Before invoking the Lord in fire some chant Jaathavedase Sunavama.. and also do aditenu manyaswa... this is also optional. Immediately after invocation, we should do the Pranapratishta on fire as well as the padmam. And immeditately after fixing the pranaas, some naivedyam like plantain, or aval or pori should be offered. The all the upacharaas like arghya, aachamaniiya, snana vastra yajnopaveetha uthariiya aabharanaas should be offered. Then dhoopam and deepam should be offere. Then there is naivedyam. The homadravyam should be divided into four parts, three for offering to agni and one as naivedyam to the Padmam. Then naivedyam should start. First to padmam.. pranaaya swaahaa ..etc to brahmane swaahaah.. stop there, repeat pranaya swaahaaH and contemplate that the Lord is present in the agni holding up his trunk and opening his mouth and offer one handful of Homadravyam to fire. For the other apana vyana udhaana samaana ad brahma also similar aahurtish should be offered. Do not conclude the naivedyam. Start to chant the moolmantrhram right from rishi chandas devata, nyasam dhyanam etc, and after repeating the moolamanthram say 21 times or so and when you feel the presence of the Lord, with chanting of moolamantram, offer handfuls of homa dravyam to agni. Some give aahuti with simple chant of moolamanthra. Some improvise it with ----nakshatre---rasau----jathasya-----sharmanah sampado vardaya vardaya, aapado nashaya naashya, sarvaabhiistaan sadhaya sadhaya ( and whatever prayer according to your knowledge of Sanskrit and your needs) followed by moolamanthra and then offer aahuti. God knows what we want and I feel this announcement is crassly commercial and unnecessary. But the vaadhyaars have t o do it necessarily to satisy the yajamana. When the homadravya meant for fire is exhausted (each time we have to contemplate that the Lord is present in the agni with upraised trunk, and happily eating the coconut-ghee-jaggery mixture from our hands) the moolamanthra should be chanted continuously to a desired total like 108,336 or 1008 as one finds it comfortable. Then two coconut shell are smeared with ghee and offered to the fire, with some manthra.. Further fule like samith or pieces of firewood sufficient to burn away the dravyam should be added now. Then it is the waiting game. We need not fan the fire. We should give the Lord Sufficient time to eat. The smoke should spread all around.. it will drive away all evil spirts.
When one is sure that the whole homadravyam is burnt up, the naivedyam to the Lord in the Padman should be completed. Gritha guda samyuktham naalikerakhandam mahanaivedyam nivedayaami.. At this time more naivedyas can be offered. Naivedyas like modakam, vadai, neyyappam etc can be offered to the fire also with moolamanthram.
After naivedyam, upacharadeepams, Karpooradeeparadhana, swarnapushpam, vedaparayanam pradakshinam namaskaram and all the other upacharas can be offered. Some charred pieces from the homakundam, or burnt samith or darbha can be mixed with ghee to form the Raksha, which can be preserved and word as tilak daily. At the end of the puja, some offer aditenumangsmstaa etc to fire, and definitely the lork invoke in the swastipadmam has to be given a send off.. Ganaanam twa.. etc.. om bhurbhuvaswaH asmaat swasti padmaad Sri Mahaganapathim yadhaastaanam pratishtapayaami. Shobhanarthe kshemaya purnaragamanaaya cha... a send off with fond hope that the lord will comeback to visit us again. The padma should be disturbed with hand, and the mixture of rice and turmeric powder can be used as a material for tilakam.
Of course if some vaadhyar is doing the Homam for you you should offer him dakshina.
This is a bare minimum ganapathihomam affordable to all and may not cost more than Rs75 to Rs 100.