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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 in Hinduism, and is one of the most worshipped. Hindu tradition states that Ganesha is a god of wisdom, success and good luck. He is also giver of different types of favors. 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 obstacles and difficulties.

His worship[change | change source]

There are 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. 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 for good luck.

Birth[change | change source]

There are two stories about how he was born.

A story says that one day, Goddess Parvati was taking a bath at home. She did not want anyone to disturb her. She created a boy with her powers, and told him to guard and not let anyone in. When Lord Shiva came home, he wanted to come inside but the boy would not let him. Lord Shiva asked his army to make him go away, but his army failed. Finally, Shiva just cut the boy’s head off. When Parvati had heard what had happened, she was angry. She pleaded with Shiva to save him. Lord Shiva sent his army to go find a head for Ganesha. His army came back with an elephant head.

The other story is this. Parvati was very proud of her son Ganesha. She asked Shani (god of the planet Saturn) to look at her son. Shani looked at the face of Ganesha. Shani’s look burnt Ganesha’s face—he had the evil eye—and Ganesha became headless. Then Brahma (the creator god of Hindus) advised Parvati to fix Ganesha with 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..

His image[change | change source]

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

  • He has the head of an elephant.
  • He is shown with a big body, showing that the entire universe is inside him.
  • His colour is red, orange, or yellow.
  • 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 near Ganesha. He uses a mouse (rat) as his mount (vahans).

He is often different in each picture, unlike most Hindu gods.

Other names[change | change source]

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

  • Gajanana
  • Heramba
  • Pillaiyar
  • Vinayaka
  • Ekdanta
  • Vakratunda
  • Krishnapingaksha
  • Gajavaktra
  • Bhalchandra
  • Lambodar
  • Vikatmev
  • Vighnaraj
  • Dhumravarna
  • Ganesh
  • Ganapati
  • Supradipa

References[change | change source]

  • Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0500510881) by Anna Dallapiccola
  • Ganpati Bappa Morya