Lord Ganesha with his elephant head and riding a mouse is one of the popular deities of the Hindu faith. He is a non-sectarian god worshiped all over the Indian sub-continent and even, South East Asia.
He is the son of goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva. He has the face of an elephant with big ears and curved trunk as well as a pot bellied human body. He is also called as Ganpati, Vighneswara and Vinayaka.
Elephant God Ganesha – Story and different names
Lord Ganesh is the destroyer of obstacles (Vighneswara) and lord of success. He is worshiped as the god of wisdom, education, wealth and knowledge. He is in fact, regarded as one among five most important deities, the others being Vishnu, Shiva, Durga and Brahma. These deities are invoked in the Panchayatana puja.
The head of Lord Ganesha is symbolic of Atman or soul (the supreme reality of human existence) and his body stands for Maya or earthly reality of humans. His elephant head stands for wisdom and his trunk symbolizes –‘Om’: the sacred sound of cosmic reality.
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Ganesha has many hands and holds a goad in his upper right hand, which helps him guide humans on the eternal path, removing all obstacles. In another hand, he holds a noose to catch and remove all problems faced by his devotees. Buy Marble Look God Shri Ganesh statue.
Lord Ganesha also holds a broken tusk just like a pen in his right hand. This tusk he used as a pen to write the Mahabharata on the insistence of sage Vyasa and is symbolic of personal sacrifice. A rosary in another hand symbolizes continuous pursuit of knowledge. He also holds a laddoo in his trunk indicating an effort to taste the sweetness of Atman (Supreme reality).
With his fan like ears, he listens to the petitions of all his devotees. He also wears a snake round his waist representing all forms of energy. He is also humility personified by riding on the smallest of vehicles – a mouse.
The story of his birth is varied. According to one legend, Goddess Parvati created a boy out of the dirt of her body while bathing and assigned him the duty of guarding her bathing room. Lord Siva, who encountered the boy, was enraged and struck off the head of the boy. Parvati was inconsolable and to pacify her, Lord Shiva sent a gana ( squad) to catch the first living being in their sight. The Gana spied a sleeping elephant, severed its head and Lord Siva attached to this head to the boy. He was made the Pati (leader) of his troops. Hence, the boy or elephant god got the name – ‘Ganapati’.
Also Read : Shiva Mantra
According to another story, a much coveted son was born to Goddess Parvati. Lord Shani, son of Sun God Surya refused to look at the infant for fear of harming it. But on Parvati’s insistence, Shani looked at the boy whose head was severed instantly. To make amends, Lord Vishnu attached the head of an elephant to the infant, and thus, Ganesha or Ganapati was born.
Ganesha also destroys human pride, selfishness and vanity. Devotees believe that by propitiating Ganesha, they can gain prosperity, success and protection from adversity.
Also Read: Lord ganesh images and wallpaper
Ganesha is the favored deity to bless new beginnings. Hindus belonging to all denominations invoke the name of Lord Ganesha before start of any new undertakings, any prayers or religious ceremonies. In South India, artists of traditional dance forms like Bharathanatyam invoke Lord Ganesha before they begin their performance.
Festivals related to Lord Ganesha are Vinayaka Chaturthi or Ganesh Chaturthi in late August or early September when people worship ganesh statue or Idol. The birthday of Lord Ganesha is the Ganesh Jayanthi and is celebrated on the fourth day of the waxing moon in January/ February (Magha).