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Lord Ganesha
Lord Ganesha
God of Removing all the obstacles
Devanagari: गणेश or श्रीगणेश
Affiliation: Deva
Consort: Riddhi (knowledge), Siddhi (perfection)
Mount: mooshikam (mouse)

In Hinduism, Ganesha (Sanskrit: गणेश ganesh or श्रीगणेश shriganesh( listen ) (when used to distinguish lordly status) (or "lord of the hosts," also spelled as Ganesa and Ganesh, often also referred to as Ganapati) is one of the most well-known and venerated representations of God. He is the first son of Shiva and Parvati, and the 'consort' of Buddhi (also called Riddhi) and Siddhi. 'Ga' symbolizes Buddhi (intellect) and 'Na' symbolizes Vidnyana (wisdom). Ganesha is thus considered the master of intellect and wisdom. He is depicted as a big-bellied, yellow or red god with four arms and the head of a one- tusked elephant, riding on, or attended to by, a mouse. He is frequently represented sitting down, with one leg raised in the air and bent over the other. Typically, his name is prefixed with the Hindu title of respect, 'Shree' or Sri.

Ganapati is popularly worshipped in different avataras such as Krishna, Sage Parashurama, Naga (the snake god). He is also depicted as a warrior king and at times in a playful mood with dandiya sticks, the symbol of the navaratri festival.

The popularity of Ganesha is widely diffused, even outside of India. Some of his devotees identify Ganesha as the Supreme deity and are called the Ganapatya.


As is the case with every other external form with which Hinduism represents god, in the sense of the personal appearance of Brahman (also referred to as Ishvara, the Lord), the figure of Ganesha too is an archetype loaded with multiple meanings and symbolism which expresses a state of perfection as well as the means of obtaining it. Ganesha, in fact, is the symbol of he who has discovered the Divinity within himself.

Ganesha is the first sound, OM, in which all hymns were born. When Shakti (Energy / Matter) and Shiva (Being / Consciousness) meet, both Sound (Ganesha) and Light (Skanda) were born. He represents the perfect equilibrium between force and kindness and between power and beauty. He also symbolizes the discriminative capacities which provide the ability to perceive distinctions between truth and illusion, the real and the unreal.

A description of all of the characteristics and attributes of Ganesha can be found in the Ganapati Upanishad (an Upanishad dedicated to Ganesha) of the rishi Atharva, in which Ganesha is identified with Brahman and Atman. This Vedic Hymn also contains one of the most famous mantras associated with this divinity: Om Gam Ganapataye Namah (literally, I surrender myself to You, Lord of the hosts).

According to the strict rules of Hindu iconography, Ganesha figures with only two hands are taboo. Hence, Ganesha figures are most commonly seen with four hands which signify their divinity. Some figures may be seen with six, some with eight, some with ten, some with twelve and some with fourteen hands, each hand carrying a symbol which differs from the symbols in other hands, there being about fifty-seven symbols in all, according to some scholars.

The image of Ganesha is a composite one. Four animals, man, elephant, the serpent and the mouse have contributed to the makeup of his figure. All of them individually and collectively have deep symbolic significance.

The lord of good fortune

In general terms, Ganesha is a much beloved and frequently invoked divinity, since he is the Lord of Good Fortune who provides prosperity and fortune and also the Destroyer of Obstacles of a material or spiritual order. It is for this reason that his grace is invoked before the undertaking of any task (e.g. traveling, taking an examination, conducting a business affair, a job interview, performing a ceremony,) with such incantations as Aum Shri Ganeshaya Namah (hail the name of Ganesha), or similar. It is also for this reason that, traditionally, all sessions of bhajan (devotional chanting) begin with an invocation of Ganesha, Lord of the "good beginnings" of chants. Throughout India and the Hindu culture, Lord Ganesha is the first icon placed into any new home or abode.

Moreover, Ganesha is associated with the first chakra (wheel), which represents the instinct of conservation and survival, of procreation and material well-being.

Bodily attributes

A popular representation of Ganesha.
A popular representation of Ganesha.

Every element of the body of Ganesha has its own value and its own significance:

  • The elephant head indicates fidelity, intelligence and discriminative power;
  • The fact that he has a single tusk (the other being broken off) indicates Ganesha’s ability to overcome all forms of dualism;
  • The wide ears denote wisdom, ability to listen to people who seek help and to reflect on spiritual truths. They signify the importance of listening in order to assimilate ideas. Ears are used to gain knowledge. The large ears indicate that when God is known, all knowledge is known;
  • the curved trunk indicates the intellectual potentialities which manifest themselves in the faculty of discrimination between real and unreal;
  • on the forehead, the Trishula (weapon of Shiva, similar to Trident) is depicted, symbolising time (past, present and future) and Ganesha's mastery over it;
  • Ganesha’s pot belly contains infinite universes. It signifies the bounty of nature and equanimity, the ability of Ganesha to swallow the sorrows of the Universe and protect the world;
  • the position of his legs (one resting on the ground and one raised) indicate the importance of living and participating in the material world as well as in the spiritual world, the ability to live in the world without being of the world.
  • The four arms of Ganesha represent the four inner attributes of the subtle body, that is: mind ( Manas), intellect ( Buddhi), ego ( Ahamkara), and conditioned conscience ( Chitta). Lord Ganesha represents the pure consciousness - the Atman - which enables these four attributes to function in us;
    • The hand waving an axe, is a symbol of the retrenchment of all desires, bearers of pain and suffering. With this axe Ganesha can both strike and repel obstacles. The axe is also to prod man to the path of righteousness and truth;
    • The second hand holds a whip, symbol of the force that ties the devout person to the eternal beatitude of God. The whip conveys that worldly attachments and desires should be rid of;
    • The third hand, turned towards the devotee, is in a pose of blessing, refuge and protection ( abhaya);
    • the fourth hand holds a lotus flower ( padma), and it symbolizes the highest goal of human evolution, the sweetness of the realised inner self.

The lord whose form is OM

Om or Aum

Ganesha is also described as Omkara or Aumkara, that is having the form of Om. The shape of his body is a copy of the outline of the Devanagari letter which indicates the celebrated Bija Mantra. For this reason, Ganesha is considered the bodily incarnation of the entire Cosmos, He who is at the base of all of the phenomenal world ( Vishvadhara, Jagadoddhara). Moreover, in the Tamil language, the sacred syllable is indicated precisely by a character which recalls the shape of the elephant's head of Ganesha.

Ganesha and the rat

Ganesha riding on his rat. Note the flowers offered by the devotees. A sculpture at the Vaidyeshwara temple at Talakkadu, Karnataka, India
Ganesha riding on his rat. Note the flowers offered by the devotees. A sculpture at the Vaidyeshwara temple at Talakkadu, Karnataka, India

According to one interpretation, Ganesha's divine vehicle, the rat or mooshikam represents wisdom, talent and intelligence. It symbolizes minute investigation of a cryptic subject. A rat leads a secret life below the ground. Thus it is also a symbol of ignorance that is dominant in darkness and fears light and knowledge. As the vehicle of Lord Ganesha, a rat teaches us to remain always on alert and illuminate our inner-self with the light of knowledge.

Both Ganesha and the Mooshak love modaka, a sweet dish which is traditionally offered to them both during worship ceremonies. The Mooshak is usually depicted as very small in relation to Ganesha, in contrast to the depictions of vehicles of other deities. However, it was once traditional in Maharashtrian art to depict Mooshak as a very large rat, and for Ganesha to be mounted on him like a horse.

Yet another interpretation says that the rat (Mushika or Akhu) represents the ego, the mind with all of its desires, and the pride of the individual. Ganesha, riding atop the rat, becomes the master (and not the slave) of these tendencies, indicating the power that the intellect and the discriminative faculties have over the mind. Moreover, the rat (extremely voracious by nature) is often depicted next to a plate of sweets with his eyes turned toward Ganesha while he tightly holds on to a morsel of food between his paws, as if expecting an order from Ganesha. This represents the mind which has been completely subordinated to the superior faculty of the intellect, the mind under strict supervision, which fixes Ganesha and does not approach the food unless it has permission.

Lastly it is a very evocative presentation of how humble and modest one should be. Ganesha in spite of his huge physical, mental and intellectual prowess conducts and carries himself so lightly that he can very well be carried by a very very small (compared to the size of Ganesha) and insignificant being-the rat.

Married or celibate?

It is interesting to note how, according to tradition, Ganesha was generated by his mother Parvati without the intervention of her husband Shiva. Shiva, in fact, being eternal (Sadashiva), did not feel any need to have children. Consequently, the relationship of Ganesha and his mother is unique and special.

This devotion is the reason that the traditions of southern India represent him as celibate (see the anecdote Devotion to his mother). It is said that Ganesha, believing his mother to be the most beautiful and perfect woman in the universe, exclaimed: "Bring me a woman as beautiful as she and I will marry her."

In the north of India, on the other hand, Ganesha is often portrayed as married to the two daughters of Brahma: Riddhi (intellect) and Siddhi (spiritual power). Popularly in north India Ganesha is accompanied by Sarasvati (goddess of culture and art) and Lakshmi (goddess of luck and prosperity), symbolizing that these qualities always accompany he who has discovered his own internal divinity. Symbolically this represents the fact that wealth, prosperity and success accompany those who have the qualities wisdom, prudence, patience, etc. that Ganesha symbolises.

There is another mythology, especially in Bengal, which goes in that Ganesha is married to the Kalabou. The Kalabou is nothing but a banana tree draped in traditional white with a Bengali saree with a red border. The story goes that, when Ganesha was supposed to marry, one day when he came home, he saw his mother Durga eating with all her ten hands. Shocked, he asked why is she doing it. Durga replied that if, after Ganesha marries, his wife would not give Durga any food, so Durga is eating to her heart's content with all ten hands. Feeling very sad, Ganesha decided that he would marry a banana tree or Kalabou so that her mother never has any worries about food, as a banana tree cannot stop her from eating.

In the early hours of Saptami, the kalabou is taken for a bath to the Holy Ganges. Water from the Ganges accompanied with Dhak and Kanshi finishes the bathing ceremony. After the bathing ceremony she is adorned in a red-bordered white sari and vermilion is smeared on its leaves. She is then placed on a decorated pedestal and worshipped with flowers, sandalwood paste, and incense sticks. Later she is placed on the right side of Lord Ganesh. This is the reason she is popularly known as Ganesh's wife.

Etymology and Derivatations of Ganesha

Ganesha as the Head of the Republic

Image of Pune city god Shree Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati
Image of Pune city god Shree Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati

In North Indian Jat traditions, Ganesha is known as the Lord of the Gana (Republic). The word Ganesh is considered by them to formed by Gana + īsha, with sandhi at the join. Gana indicates the republic and the suffix ish indicates "Lord" or "Head". Ganesh is also known as Ganapati, the suffix 'pati' indicating Lord or protector of the Republic. According to the beliefs of the Jats, He guided the affairs of the republic. Nothing happened in the republic without his permission. A marriage ceremony would be performed with his blessings and entry to the republic area would be with his permission.

Mythological Anecdotes

How did he obtain his elephant head?

The highly articulated mythology of Hinduism presents many stories which explain how Ganesha obtained his elephant head; often the origin of this particular attribute is to be found in the same anecdotes which tell about his birth. And many of these same stories reveal the origins of the enormous popularity of his cult.

Decapitated and reanimated by Shiva

The most well-known story is probably the one taken from the Shiva Purana. Once, while his mother Parvati wanted to take a bath, there were no attendants around to guard her and stop anyone from accidentally entering the house. Hence she created an image of a boy out of turmeric paste which she prepared to cleanse her body (turmeric was used for its antiseptic and cooling properties), and infused life into it, and thus Ganesha was born. Parvati ordered Ganesha not to allow anyone to enter the house, and Ganesha obediently followed his mother's orders. After a while Shiva returned from outside, and as he tried to enter the house, Ganesha stopped him. Shiva was infuriated at this strange little boy who dared to challenge him. He told Ganesha that he was Parvati's husband, and demanded that Ganesha let him go in. But Ganesha would not hear any person's word other than his dear mother's. Shiva lost his patience and had a fierce battle with Ganesha. At last he severed Ganesha's head with his Trishula ( trident). When Parvati came out and saw her son's lifeless body, she was very angry and sad. She demanded that Shiva restore Ganesha's life at once.

Unfortunately, Shiva's Trishula was so powerful that it had hurled Ganesha's head very far off. All attempts to find the head were in vain. As a last resort, Shiva approached Brahma who suggested that he replace Ganesha's head with the first living being that came his way which lay with its head facing north. Shiva then sent his celestial armies ( Gana) to find and take the head of whatever creature they happened to find asleep with its head facing north. They found a dying elephant which slept in this manner, and after its death took its head, attaching the elephant's head to Ganesha's body and bringing him back to life. From then on, he was called Ganapathi, or head of the celestial armies, and was to be worshipped by everyone before beginning any activity.

Shiva and Gajasura

This statue of Ganesha was created in the Mysore District of Karnataka in the 13th century.
This statue of Ganesha was created in the Mysore District of Karnataka in the 13th century.

Another story regarding the origins of Ganesha and his elephant head narrates that, once, there existed an Asura (demon) with all the characteristics of an elephant, called Gajasura, who was undergoing a penitence (or tapas). Shiva, satisfied by this austerity, decided to grant him, as a reward, whatever gift he desired. The demon wished that he could emanate fire continually from his own body so that no one could ever dare to approach him. The Lord granted him his request. Gajasura continued his penitence and Shiva, who appeared in front of him from time to time, asked him once again what he desired. The demon responded: "I desire that You inhabit my stomach."

Shiva granted even this request and he took up residence in the demon's stomach. In fact, Shiva is also known as Bhola Shankara because he is a deity easily propitiated; when he is satisfied with a devotee he grants him whatever he desires, and this, from time to time, generates particularly intricate situations. It was for this reason that Parvati, his wife, sought him everywhere without results. As a last recourse, she went to her brother Vishnu, asking him to find her husband. He, who knows everything, reassured her: "Don't worry, dear sister, your husband is Bhola Shankara and promptly grants to his devotees whatever they ask of him, without regard for the consequences; for this reason, I think he has gotten himself into some trouble. I will find out what has happened."

Then Vishnu, the omniscient director of the cosmic game, staged a small comedy. He transformed Nandi (the bull of Shiva) into a dancing bull and conducted him in front of Gajasura, assuming, at the same time, the appearance of a flutist. The enchanting performance of the bull sent the demon into ecstasies, and he asked the flutist to tell him what he desired. The musical Vishnua responded: "Can you give me that which I ask?" Gajasura replied: "Who do you take me for? I can immediately give you whatever you ask." The flutist then said: "If that's so, liberate Shiva from your stomach." Gajasura understood then that this must have been no other than Vishnu himself, the only one who could have known that secret and he threw himself at his feet. Having liberated Shiva, he asked him for one last gift: "I have been blessed by you with many gifts; my last request is that everyone remember me adoring my head when I am dead." Shiva then brought his own son there and substitued his head with that of Gajasura. From then on, in India, the tradition is that any action, in order to prosper, must begin with the adoration of Ganesha. This is the result of the gift of Shiva to Gajasura.

The gaze of Shani

A less well-known story from the Brahma Vaivarta Purana narrates a different version of Ganesha's birth. On the insistence of Shiva, Parvati fasted for a year (punyaka vrata) to propitiate Vishnu so that he would grant her a son. Lord Vishnu, after the completion of the sacrifice, announced that he would incarnate himself as her son in every kalpa (eon). Accordingly, Krishna was born to Parvati as a charming infant. This event was celebrated with great enthusiasm and all the gods were invited to take a look at the baby. However Shani (Saturn), the son of Surya, hesitated to look at the baby since Shani was cursed with the gaze of destruction. However Parvati insisted that he look at the baby, which Shani did, and immediately the infant's head fell off and flew to Goloka. Seeing Shiva and Parvati grief stricken, Vishnu mounted on Garuda, his divine eagle, and rushed to the banks of the Pushpa-Bhadra river, from where he brought back the head of a young elephant. The head of the elephant was joined with the headless body of Parvati's son, thus reviving him. The infant was named Ganesha and all the Gods blessed Ganesha and wished Him power and prosperity..

Other versions

Another tale of Ganesha's birth relates to an incident in which Shiva slew Aditya, the son of a sage. Shiva restored life to the dead boy, but this could not pacify the outraged sage Kashyapa, who was one of the seven great Rishis. Kashyap cursed Shiva and declared that Shiva's son would lose his head. When this happened, the head of Indra's elephant was used to replace it.

Still another tale states that on one occasion, Parvati's used bath-water was thrown into the Ganges, and this water was drunk by the elephant-headed Goddess Malini, who gave birth to a baby with four arms and five elephant heads. The river goddess Ganga claimed him as her son, but Shiva declared him to be Parvati's son, reduced his five heads to one and enthroned him as the Controller of obstacles (Vigneshwara).

How did Ganesha's tusk break off?

There are various anecdotes which explain how Ganesha broke off one of his tusks.

Ganesha the scribe

In the first part of the epic poem Mahabharata, it is written that the sage Vyasa asked Ganesha to transcribe the poem as he dictated it to him. Ganesha agreed, but only on the condition that Vyasa recite the poem uninterruptedly, without pausing. The sage, in his turn, posed the condition that Ganesha would not only have to write, but would have to understand everything that he heard before writing it down. In this way, Vyasa might recuperate a bit from his continuous talking by simply reciting a difficult verse which Ganesha could not understand. The dictation began, but in the rush of writing Ganesha's feather pen broke. He broke off a tusk and used it as a pen so that the transcription could proceed without interruption, permitting him to keep his word.

Ganesha and Parashurama

One day Parashurama, an avatar of Vishnu, went to pay a visit to Shiva, but along the way he was blocked by Ganesha. Parashurama hurled himself at Ganesha with his axe and Ganesha (knowing that this axe was given to him by Shiva) allowed himself out of respect to be struck and lost his tusk as a result.

Ganesha and the Moon

It is said that one day Ganesha, after having received from many of his devotees an enormous amount of sweets (Modak), in order to better digest this incredible mass of food, decided to go for a ride. He got on the mouse which he used as his vehicle and took off. It was a magnificent night and the moon was resplendent. Suddenly a snake appeared out of nowhere and nearly frightened the mouse to death, causing it to jump and Ganesha was thrown off his mount. Ganesha's huge stomach smashed against the ground so forcefully that it burst open and all of the sweets that he had eaten were scattered around him. Nonetheless, he was too intelligent to get angry about this accident and, without wasting any time in useless lamentations, he tried to remedy the situation as best he could. He took the serpent which had caused the accident and used it as a belt to keep his stomach closed and bandage the injury. Satisfied by this solution, he remounted his mouse and continued his excursion. Chandradev (Moon God) saw the whole scene and laughed. Ganesha, being the short-tempered one, cursed Chandradev for his arrogance and breaking off one of his tusks, hurled it against the Moon, slashing its luminous face in two. He then cursed it, decreeing that anyone who happens to see the moon will incur bad luck. Hearing this, Chandradev realised his folly and asked for forgiveness from Ganesha. Ganesha relented and since a curse cannot be revoked, only softened it. Ganesha softened his curse such that the moon would wax and wane in intensity every fifteen days and anyone who looks at the moon during Ganesh Chaturthi would incur bad-luck. This explains why, in certain moments, the light of the Moon goes off and then begins gradually to reappear; but its face appears whole only for a brief period of time, since it is once again "broken" in half to the point of disappearing.

Ganesha, head of the celestial armies

Statue of Ganesha with a flower
Statue of Ganesha with a flower

There once took place a great competition between the Devas to decide who among them should be the head of the Gana (the troops of semi-gods at the service of Shiva). The competitors were required to circle the world as fast as possible and return to the Feet of Shiva. The gods took off, each on his or her own vehicle, and even Ganesha participated with enthusiasm in the race; but he was extremely heavy and was riding on a mouse! Naturally, his pace was remarkably slow and this was a great disadvantage. He had not yet made much headway when there appeared before him the sage Narada (son of Brahma), who asked him where he was going. Ganesha was very annoyed and went into a rage because it was considered unlucky to encounter a solitary Brahmin just at the beginning of a voyage. Not withstanding the fact that Narada was the greatest of Brahmins, son of Brahma himself, this was still a bad omen. Moreover, it wasn't considered a good sign to be asked where one was heading when one was already on the way to some destination; therefore, Ganesha felt doubly unfortunate. Nonetheless, the great Brahmin succeeded in calming his fury. Ganesha explained to him the motives for his sadness and his terrible desire to win. Narada consoled and exhorted him not to despair.

Ganesha returned to his father, who asked him how he was able to finish the race so quickly. Ganesha told him of his encounter with Narada and of the Brahmin's counsel. Shiva, satisfied with this response, pronouned his son the winner and, from that moment on, he was acclaimed with the name of Ganapati (Conductor of the celestial armies) and Vinayaka (Lord of all beings).

Ganesha's appetite

Ganesha is also known as the destroyer of vanity, egoism and pride.

One anecdote, taken from the Purana, narrates that the treasurer of Svarga (paradise) and god of wealth, Kubera, went one day to Mount Kailasa in order to receive the darshan (vision) of Shiva. Since he was extremely vain, he invited Shiva to a feast in his fabulous city, Alakapuri, so that he could show off to him all of his wealth. Shiva smiled and said to him: "I cannot come, but you can invite my son Ganesha. But I warn you that he is a voracious eater." Unperturbed, Kubera felt confident that he could satisfy even the most insatiable appetite, like that of Ganesha, with his opulence. He took the little son of Shiva with him into his great city. There, he offered him a ceremonial bath and dressed him in sumptuous clothing. After these initial rites, the great banquet began. While the servants of Kubera were working themselves to the bone in order to bring the portions, the little Ganesha just continued to eat and eat and eat.... His appetite did not decrease even after he had devoured the servings which were destined for the other guests. There was not even time to substitute one plate with another because Ganesha had already devoured everything, and with gestures of impatience, continued waiting for more food. Having devoured everything which had been prepared, Ganesha began eating the decorations, the tableware, the furniture, the chandelier.... Terrified, Kubera prostrated himself in front of the little omnivorous one and supplicated him to spare him, at least, the rest of the palace.

"I am hungry. If you don't give me something else to eat, I will eat you as well!", he said to Kubera. Desperate, Kubera rushed to mount Kailasa to ask Shiva to remedy the situation. The Lord then gave him a handful of roasted rice, saying that something as simple as a handful of roasted rice would satiate Ganesha, if it was offered with humility and love. Ganesha had swallowed up almost the entire city when Kubera finally arrived and humbly gave him the rice. With that, Ganesha was finally satisfied and calmed.

Ganesha's reverence for his parents

Once there was a competition between Ganesha and his brother Murugan as to who could circumbulate the three worlds faster and hence win the fruit of knowledge. Murugan went off on a journey to cover the three worlds while Ganesha simply circumbulated his parents. When asked why he did so, he answered that his parents Shiva and Parvati constituted the three worlds, and was given the fruit of knowledge.

Devotion to his mother

While playing, once, Ganesha wounded a cat. When he returned home he found a wound in his Mother's body. He enquired how she got hurt. Mother Parvati replied that this was caused by none other than Ganesha himself! Surprised, Ganesha wanted to know when he hurt her. Parvati explained that She as Divine Power was immanent in all beings. When he wounded the cat she was hurt. Ganesha realised that all women were veritable manifestations of his Mother. He decided not to marry. That's how he remained a brahmachari, a life-long celibate, following the strict rules of Brahmacharya. However, in some scriptures and images Ganesha is often portrayed as married to the two daughters of Brahma: Riddhi (Knowledge) and Siddhi (Perfection).

Festivals and worship of Ganesha

Immersion of Ganesh murti at Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai
Immersion of Ganesh murti at Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai

In India, there is an important festival honouring Lord Ganesha. While it is most popular in the state of Maharashtra, it is performed all over India. It is celebrated for ten days starting from Ganesh Chaturthi. This festival is celebrated and it culminates on the day of Ananta Chaturdashi when the murti of Lord Ganesha is immersed into the most convenient body of water. In Mumbai (earlier known as Bombay), the murti is immersed in the Arabian Sea and in Pune the Mula-Mutha river. In various North and East Indian cities, like Kolkata, they are immersed in the holy Ganga river. One who really wants to taste the festival needs to come down to the city of Mumbai; particularly at Lalbaug where the divine idol of Lalbaugcha raja (The Lord Of Lalbaug, as Ganesha is fondly called) is set. The Ganesha festival starts on Ganesh Chaturthi (fourth day of Hindu calendar month Bhadrapada) and ends on Anant Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of Bhadrapada).

While the Ganapati festival is celebrated by Hindus throughout the Country with great devotional fervour, in Mumbai, the Country’s richest and most populated city, the festival assumes awesome proportions. On the last day of the festival, millions of people of all ages descend onto the streets leading up to the sea, dancing and singing, to the rhythmic accompaniment of drums and cymbals . The town of Pen in Raigad district of Maharashtra is famous for producing the most beautiful Ganesh murtis(idols). The skilled artists from this town make Ganesh murtis all around the year to meet the demand of the murtis in Ganesh festival.

Celebrations of Ganesh by the Indian and Sri Lankan Tamil community in Paris, France
Celebrations of Ganesh by the Indian and Sri Lankan Tamil community in Paris, France

Popularity of Ganesha

Ganesha has two Siddhis (symbolically represented as wives or consorts): Siddhi (success) and Riddhi (prosperity). It is widely believed that "Wherever there is Ganesh, there is Success and Prosperity" and "Wherever there is Success and Prosperity there is Ganesh". This is why Ganesh is believed to be the harbinger of good fortune, and why he is invoked first at any ritual or ceremony. Whether it is diwali puja, a new house, a new vehicle, students praying before the exams, or people praying before job interviews, it is Ganesha they pray to, because it is believed that he will come to their aid and grant them success in their endeavor.

The names of Ganesha

108 Names of Lord Ganesha

Statue of Ganesha photographed in London during the holiday of Diwali.
Statue of Ganesha photographed in London during the holiday of Diwali.

Like other devas (Hindu male deities) and devis (female deities), Ganesha has many other titles of respect or symbolic names, and is often worshipped through the chanting of the Ganesha Sahasranama, which literally means A thousand names of Ganesha. The Ganesha Sahasranama is part of the Ganesha Purana, a Hindu mythological text that venerates Ganesha. Each name in the Sahasranama conveys a different meaning and symbolises a different aspect of Ganesha.

Other meanings

In India an elephant with one tusk is sometimes called a "ganesh".

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