A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Sankashti Chaturthi (संकष्टी चतुर्थी, సంకటహర చతుర్థి, சங்கடஹர சதுர்த்தி, સંકષ્ટી ચતુર્થી). This Hindu vrat (pious observance) is celebrated in both the northern and southern states of India, with special festivities in the state of Maharashtra and in South India. On this holy day, Lord Shiva declared the supremacy of His son, Sankashti (Lord Ganesha) over all other Gods except Vishnu, Lakshmi and Parvati. When Sankashti Chaturthi falls on Tuesday it is called Angarki (Red) Chaturthi and is considered highly auspicious in western and southern India, especially in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. A Sankashti Chaturthi vrat is observed during every Hindu lunar calendar month on the chaturthi (fourth day) of the Krishna Paksha waning phase of the Moon. Sankashti is of Sanskrit origin and implies deliverance from difficult times and the chaturthi fourth day is the day of Lord Ganesha. Thus, this is a propitious day for worshipping Lord Ganesha and for seeking help to overcome all the obstacles in life and to be victorious in every difficult situation. Childless couples observe the vrat so as to be blessed with offspring. Devotees rise early and dedicate the day to worshipping Lord Ganesha, observing a strict fast in his honour, although some keep a partial fast by eating only fruit, vegetables and roots. Tapioca, peanuts, potatoes and herbs are used to make the sabudana khichadi fasting food. A lamp is lit and the statue of Lord Ganesha is decorated with Durva (Bermuda grass) and fresh flowers. Normally, other puja (worship) rituals include burning incense and reciting the Vedic (religious texts) mantras, followed by the reading of the vrat katha (ancient legend) for the month. The fast is broken only after worshipping Lord Ganesha in the evening and sighting the moon. Special puja rituals are dedicated to Chandra (the God of the Moon), with the sprinkling of water, chandan (sandalwood) paste, consecrated rice and flowers towards the moon. In each Lunar month, the God Ganesha is worshipped with different peeta (Lotus petals) and names. Each of the 13 vrats has a specific purpose and legend, its vrat katha. There is also a final katha for the adika extra month in the Hindu calendar that is intercalated about once every 32.5 months to keep the Lunar and Solar calendars aligned. Each lunar month in the Hindu calendar has two chaturthi tithis (lunar days) and the one after the Amavasya New Moon during the Shukla Paksha waxing phase of the moon is known as Vinayaka Chaturthi. Image: indiatoday.in.
St Simeon Stylites (ܫܡܥܘܢ ܕܐܣܛܘܢܐ, Συμεὼν ὁ Στυλίτης, سمعان العمودي ) (c390-459). St Gregorios Malankara (Indian) Syriac Orthodox Church Feast of Turkish Syrian ascetic saint and Venerable Father who achieved notability for living on a small platform on top of a pillar near Aleppo. Several other stylites later followed his model and he is known formally as Simeon Stylites the Elder to distinguish him from Simeon Stylites the Younger, Simeon Stylites III and Symeon Stylites of Lesbos. A shepherd boy, he entered a monastery before the age of 16, practised an extravagant austerity and sought a rocky eminence on a mountain slope to live in a space less than 20 m in diameter but crowds of pilgrims asking for his counsel or prayers left insufficient time for his devotions, leading to his adopting a new way of life. He discovered a 3 m pillar that had survived among nearby ruins and lived on a 1 sq m platform atop the pillar. He later moved his platform to other pillars, the last more than 15 m from the ground. A double wall was raised around him to keep the crowds from disturbing his prayerful concentration, women in general not being permitted beyond the wall, his mother’s coffin having to be brought to him for him to say farewell. Simeon spent 37 years on the pillar, dying on 2 September stooped over in prayer. A huge throng of clergy and laypeople attended the funeral and he was buried near his pillar. A contest arose between Antioch and Constantinople for the possession of Simeon’s remains and the greater part were left in Antioch as a protection for the unwalled city. For the next century after Simeon’s death, ascetics living on pillars (stylites) were a common sight throughout the Christian Levant. The ruins of the vast edifice erected in Simeon’s honour, the Qalaat Semaan (Fortress of Simeon) can be seen about 30 km northwest of Aleppo, with four basilicas built out from an octagonal court towards the four points of the compass to form a large cross. In the centre of the court stands the base of the style (column) on which Simeon stood and which was destroyed by a missile in 2016. He is commemorated as a saint with his feast on 29 Pashons in the Coptic Orthodox Church, 1 September in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches and 5 January in the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches. Image: oca.org.
St Pantaleon (Παντελεήμων, Пантелеи́мон, Panteleimon the Great Martyr and Healer, Wonderworker, All-compassionate) (275-303). Western and Byzantine Christianity Feast Day for rich pagan Nicomedian, a converted Christian doctor to the Emperor, whose pagan court caused him to give up his Christian faith until he detested his sin and joined the Church once more. To make up for what he had done, he desired to suffer and die for Jesus and imitated Our Lord’s charity by taking care of poor sick people without any charge for his medical services. Accused of being a Christian, he was given the choice of denying his Faith or being put to death but no torture could force Pantaleon to deny his Faith and he was martyred in Nicomedia, Bithynia. His relics were venerated at Nicomedia, then translated to Constantinople, Saint Denis at Paris having relics and his head being venerated at Lyon. A phial containing some of his blood was long preserved at Ravello and on his Feast Day the blood was said to become fluid and to bubble. Armenians also believe that the Amaras Monastery in Nagorno Karabakh contains relics of St Pantaleon, who was venerated in eastern provinces of Armenia. In Portugal, São Pantaleão is one of the patron saints of Porto, together with John the Baptist and Our Lady of Vendome, as part of his relics were taken by Armenian refugees to the city after the Turkish occupation of Constantinople in 1453 and in 1499 they were translated from the Church of Saint Peter of Miragaia to the Cathedral, where they have been kept to this day. Numerous churches, shrines and monasteries have been named for St Pantaleon, including the St Panteleimon Monastery at Mount Athos, the Agios Panteleimon Monastery in Crete, St Panteleimon monastery in Myrtou, Cyprus and the Twelfth-Century Church of St Panteleimon in Gorno Nerezi, North Macedonia. A Romanesque church was dedicated to him in Cologne in the Ninth Century at the latest. The 1739 Church of St Panteleimon is one of the oldest in St Petersburg. In Italy, Pantaleon gives favourable lottery numbers, victories and winners in dreams. San Pantaleone (Pantalone) was a popular saint in Venice and therefore gave his name to a character in the commedia dell’arte, Shakespeare’s Pantaloon after whom the trousers (pants) are named. Venerated in Anglicanism, Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism. He is counted in the West among the Late-Medieval Fourteen Holy Helpers and in the East as one of the Holy Unmercenary Healers. In Papanice, Calabria on his Feast Day a statue of the saint is carried through the town to give a blessing to all those who seek it. Major shrines Pantaleon Monastery in the Jordan desert, Pantaleon Church, Constantinople built by Emperor Justinian in the Sixth Century. Feast Day 19 Epip Coptic Christianity. Patron of physicians, apothecaries, midwives, livestock, lottery, lottery winners, victories, lottery tickets; invoked against headaches, consumption, locusts, witchcraft, accidents and loneliness; helper for crying children. Image: ncregister.com.
Prayer O God, Who gave to St Pantaleon the grace of exercising charity toward his fellow men by distributing his goods to the poor and has made him a special patron of the sick, grant that we may also practise our charity by works of mercy. Through the intercession of Your servant preserve us from sickness but if it be Your Will that illness should afflict us give us the grace to bear it patiently and let it assist in the salvation of our soul. Amen