Ganesha

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A figurine of Ganesha made of clay

Ganesha or (Ganesh) is the elephant-headed god in Hinduism. He is the son of Shiva and Parvati.

Ganesha is a very popular god of Hindus. Hindu tradition states that Ganesha is a god of wisdom, success and good luck. He is also giver of different types of favours. The Hindu tradition calls Ganesha as the Vighneshvara. "Vighneshvara" in Sanskrit language means one who is the lord of obstacles or difficulties. Thus, the Hindu tradition states that by worshiping Ganesha, one can remove all obstacle and difficulties.

His worship[change | change source]

There are not many temples (mandirs) of Ganesha, however in many Hindu temples there are statues and carvings. But, in most of the temples of Hindus, people worship Ganesha along with other gods and goddesses. Hindu Tradition gives Ganesha an important place. The tradition says that Hindus should worship their religious functions and ceremonies because he is the god of all obstacles. Generally, many Hindus also worship Ganesha before starting any new thing. Thus, for example, before occupying a new house, they may worship Ganesha. Likewise, before starting any new business, many Hindus may worship Ganesha.

Mythology[change | change source]

There are two mythological stories about Ganesha.

A story says that Parvati had made a boy out of the dirt of her body. The boy of dirt became alive. This boy was guarding the way while Parvati was taking a bath. Shiva wanted to meet his wife, Parvati. The boy did not allow him. Shiva became angry. He cut off the head of the boy. Then, the head of an elephant was fixed to make the boy alive again. Therefore, Ganesha has a head of an elephant.

The other story is this. Parvati was very proud of her son Ganesha. She asked Shani (planet Saturn) to look at her son. Shani looked at the face of Ganesha. Shani’s look burnt Ganesha’s face and he became headless. Then Brahma (the creator god of Hindus) advised Parvati to fix the first head of anything she could find. Parvati found a head of an elephant. This head she fixed on the body of Ganesha. Thus, Ganesha got an elephant’s head.

Ganesha was having a race with his brother Kartikeya, the first one to go around the world would be the winner.So Kartikeya raced off the next day but Ganesha stayed and thought about how he could win. Eventually he sat on his mount, a rat, and went round his parents(who represent the whole world in Hindu scriptures) seven times. Thus, Ganesha was declared the winner due to his intelligence.

His image[change | change source]

Any picture, image or portrayal in any form of Ganesha generally has the following characteristics or features:

  • He is shown with a tubby body, showing that the entire universe is inside him.
  • His color is red or orange.
  • Generally, he has four arms, and sometimes three eyes.
  • He carries a mala (garland) and certain other items like a lotus flower.
  • He sits generally with a bowl of sweets (laddus or modaks) before him.
  • A mouse or rat will be around Ganesha. He uses a mouse (rat) as his mount (vahans).

He is different in each picture

Other names[change | change source]

Ganesha has several other names. Some of his names are:

  • Gajanana, that is, one having the face similar to the face of an elephant
  • Heramba, that is, one who is dear to his mother
  • Pillaiyar, that is, youthful
  • Vinayaka, that is, a leader
  • Ekdanta, that is, one with one tusk
  • Vakratunda
  • Krishnapingaksha
  • Gajavaktra
  • Bhalchandra
  • Lambodar
  • Vikatmev
  • Vighnaraj
  • Dhumravarna

Reference[change | change source]