Saturday, October 25, 2014

Lord Ganesha

In India,  which is home to million of Gods and Goddesses, one of the most worshipped deities is Lord Ganesha.

Ganesha can be easily identified by the presence of an elephant head over a human body.


Ganesha is considered as the remover of obstacles, the God of wisdom, knowledge and new beginnings. He is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies.

A popular festival which is celebrated to honour Lord Ganesha is called Ganesh Chaturthi. This is a 10 day festival which typically falls in late August or early September. It is celebrated by bringing in clay idols of Ganesha into homes , symbolizing his arrival, followed by prayer offerings to him.  At the end of the 10 day festival the idols are immersed into water.

The story of Ganesha ' s elephant head is fascinating. As the legend goes , Lord Shiva (another one of the revered deities in India) was away from home fighting for the Gods. Meanwhile his wife, Parvati,  used her powers to create a son, Ganesha, to help protect her at home while her husband was away. One day while she was taking a bath inside the house , she ordered her son to stay at guard outside and not let anyone come in. So when Lord Shiva arrived home from battle, Little Ganesha did not permit him from  entering the house. In a fit of rage Lord Shiva slashed off his head. Parvati was inconsolable when she found out about this and to make it up to her , Lord Shiva replaced the child's head with the head of the first animal that came into his sight. The animal was an elephant and therefore Lord Ganesha, got an elephants head over his human body.

Symbolism
  • His broad crown is an invitation to think big.
  • The tiny eyes speak of the importance of concentration and attention to detail for success in any foray.
  • One chief form of concentration is to listen to others more, and talk less. This is symbolised by the huge elephantine ears and small mouth He sports.
  • Ganesh has only one tusk, with the other broken off. This symbolises the importance of  holding on only to the good and discarding the bad.
  • The trunk of Ganesh symbolises the importance of being efficient and adaptable in order to be successful in one's ventures. The curvature is also said to represent the rising of the kundalini (spiritual energy that is believed to be coiled serpent-like at the base of the spine) powers.
  • His large tummy points to the necessity of digesting all that life has to offer—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  • The abhaya mudra (gesture of fearlessness) of His lower right hand symbolises Ganesh's blessings and protection on a person's journey through life, especially the spiritual one.
  • In His upper right hand, Ganesh usually holds an axe, with which He is said to cut of all attachments.
  • He pulls the devotee nearer to the spiritual path by the rope that He carries in His upper left hand.
  • He offers rewards for penances (sadhana) done with the modak (type of confection, usually made from rice flour and a stuffing of jaggery, coconut, etc.) He holds in His lower left hand.
  • The bowls and baskets of offerings at Ganesh's feet are there to symbolise that the entire world, and all its choicest pleasures, are out there for the taking.
  • Ganesh's tiny pet and vehicle, his mouse, bowing down close by, is there to indicate that though a little desire is good, it is essential for one to master it. You have to ride your desires and not vice versa.
Love these tales in Indian mythology...

15 comments:

Hannah Green said...

It is great to hear and learn about the origin and beliefs in different countries. Great post!

Louise Banta said...

WOW! I finally understood the story behind the head. I've always seen it from movies, articles and event books but never really understood why it was an elephant head.

Short, simple but straight to the point post. Thumbs up!

xo,
Louise of The Legendary Ukayista | Bloglovin'

Sim @ SimsLife.co.uk said...

What an amazing story behind Lord Ganesha! Love finding out information like this! :) Simone x

Latifah said...

Fascinating Story! I have never heard this story before today and sparks my curiosity to read more about the culture. Thank you for teaching me something new :)

Franc said...

I think we get to learn something from Lord Ganesha's Wisdom. It's great to know more about him.

Fred Hawson said...

Ganesh is one of the recognizable figures in Hindu lore. I even bought a figurine of Ganesh in Bali. This is the first time I've heard of his origin. Thanks.

Vanessa said...

Hindi culture is amazing and that is why I respect it so much. I also love these engaging, magical and amusing stories about Gods and deities. The way you tell the story is so entertaining that I am really fascinated!

Marie Clara said...

Hindi Culture and Religion fascinates me. I've learned so much about it by watching Bollywood/Hindi movies and having some Indian friends too. Thanks for sharing this, now I've learned something new again :)

Tiffany Yong W.T. said...

Learning the story behind the deities allow us to show respect to other people's religion and thanks for sharing this!

Russ R. said...

This is the first time I've heard of Lord Ganesha. But it's great because it's always great to learn about other cultures.

Sin Yee said...

Great to learn about Hindu Culture. Thanks for the lesson. =D

Fernando Lachica said...

I like to read books about the culture of the world. Ganesha, I saw this with my Hindu friends in Dubai.

Evelina Anya said...

Good to learn about Hindu Culture :) Love your post!

Eliz Frank said...

Ganesha is one of my favorite deities. I have a pretty big sculpture of Ganesha in front of my home.

Nicol said...

oh wow, learn something new! some interesting facts there