Question: How do I discontinue the tradition of Ganesha Chaturthi worship, which was being held every year in my house?

Ganesha chaturthi is one of the naimitika duties of a grihasta. To discontinue a festival one must first have a proper reason for giving it up. Otherwise one should not give up naimitika duties. Nitya duties should never be given up, but naimitika duties may be given up under special circumstances.

There is a procedure by which the naimitika duty may be given up, and it is as follows. In which ever village the tradition was being followed, you should find a brahmana and request him to take over the puja on your behalf. You must ask the brahmana what he requires to undertake this worship. Generally he will require the expenses of the puja as well as some dakshina. This is the Vedic way of transfering a ritual according to the karma-kanda.

Anytime the brahmana will stop performing this puja, you will again have a bound duty to continue the performance of the festival. When requesting him to accept the undertaking of the festival, he may choose to accept the service or not. But when he stops performing the ritual, you have no choice but to again accept the responsibility. You are duty bound to continue the custom once again. If you fail to continue the puja, the results will come to you.

The procedures I have mentioned are according to karma-kanda. If one takes to the service to Sri Hari, then one is not subject to the same duties and procedures. A devotee of Hari is not obliged to perform the naimitika duties, he simply must perform his own sadhana to Sri Hari.

If one really wants to give up naimitika duties, it is best that one takes to a higher form of spiritual life through sadhana to Sri Hari. Only then is it certain that you will be without fault. In the Srimad Bhagavatam it is stated:

devarshi-bhutapta-nrinam pitrinam
na kinkaro nayam rini ca rajan
sarvatmana yah sharanam sharanyam
gato mukundam parihritya kartam

“Anyone who has taken shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, the giver of liberation, giving up all kinds of obligation, and has taken to the path in all seriousness, owes neither duties nor obligations to the devas, sages, general living entities, family members, humankind or forefathers.”

All of one’s naimitika duties are automatically fulfilled by the performance of devotional service to Sri Hari.

On the other hand, suppose one hands the puja over to a brahmana, and three years later the brahmana stops performing the puja without informing you. The negative results will come to you and you will suffer the reactions. If the ritual has been performed in the family for many generations, then as long as one is enjoying the results of even one paisa of the forefather’s wealth or property, one is obliged to continue all of the family’s naimitika duties. Failure to do this will result in severe reactions to one’s family. This is what is told in the karma-kanda.

If one takes to the service of Sri Hari through a sadhana, then one is automatically free from the naimitika duties to the devas, forefathers, and others. One will automatically receive the results of all punya-karmas, tapas, charity, and sacrifice:

vedeshu yajneshu tapahsu caiva
daneshu yat punya-phalam pradishtam
atyeti tat sarvam idam viditva
yogi param sthanam upaiti cadyam

“A person who accepts the path of devotional service is not bereft of the results derived from studying the Vedas, performing austere sacrifices, giving charity or pursuing philosophical and fruitive activities. He receives all such results, and at the end he attains the supreme abode.”