Ganesh is found in millions of homes. He is undoubtedly the most popular god in India. His popularity has spread worldwide. Millions of statues, pictures, pendants, necklaces, key chains and so on, are manufactured yearly.
Ganesh is easy to recognize. You have probably seen images of him many times. He is the god with the elephant head and large tummy.
Ganesh is the god that can remove all obstacles. He is the one who can change worry and concern to success.
He can bring wealth and prosperity. Ganesh is the god who will help you overcome all road blocks you may encounter. No wonder he is popular!
In India Ganesh is worshiped by all, rich and poor. Everyone seems to consider him vitally important. In Thailand Buddhists have equally accepted this god and he has become a part of their rich inheritance.
Ganesh, known as the remover of obstacles, has somehow also found his way into thousands of non-Hindu homes.
Students pray to him before taking their exams. Ganesh is the protected of arts, science and knowledge. This is perfect as he also helps solve any problems on may encounter.
Business people turn to Ganesh before starting a new enterprise. Ganesh is there to assist in financial matters and make sure the wind of wealth blows in their direction.
People moving to new places make sure to have Ganesh with them. Ganesh is the god who helps with new beginnings ensuring success.
Ganesh is always the first god prayers are offered to before any special ceremony.
Why Ganesh has an Elephant Head
There are several different accounts answering this question. The best known story about why Ganesh has an elephant head is the following:
Her husband was often away on his important missions. Parvati longed for a son. She also needed someone completely trustworthy to stand guard outside her room to keep away stockers when she was soaking in water.
Being the goddess she was, Parvati decided to create her son herself. She started scraping the dirt off her skin. Using the dirt she created her own beautiful son.
She gave her son the task of standing guard outside her bathroom door. He was a loyal son who would do anything for his mother.
One day Shiva returned home. He was eager to greet his wife. To his great astonishment he found a stranger standing guard outside the room of his wife. Ganesh, who did not realize who Shiva was, refused Shiva to enter the room.
To say the least, Shiva got into a frightful rage; how dare anyone refuse him entrance to his wife’s room. He pulled out his sword and cut off the head of Ganesh.
Parvati head the commotion and hurried out to investigate. She found the headless body of her beloved son. Parvati was devastated and shocked that her beloved son had been killed by her own husband. Parvati threatened to destroy the world if not her son was brought back to life.
Shiva realizing the grave mistake he had made knew something had to be done to put things right. Shiva commanded his servants to go up the road and cut off the head of the first living being they met.
As it happened they came across a baby elephant. The mother elephant was already dead; therefore the mother could not grieve at the loss of her child. They did as they were told and brought the head of the baby elephant back to their master.
Shiva placed the elephant head on the headless body of the boy. Ganesh was brought back to life.
Parvati was ecstatic and did not mind at all that her son now had an elephant head. Shiva was equally happy and he adopted Ganesh as his own son.
Ganesh now had both a mother and a father who loved him dearly. Ganesh statues are often placed in a niche in the wall as a protective symbol to guard the home.
Why Durve Grass is offered to Ganesh
It is common to offer durva grass to Ganesh. This is something which is appreciated by the god. Not much is need, only three or five nods. Durva grass is the Hindi name for Bermuda grass, (Cynodon Dactylon).
There is a story in the Puranas explaining why Ganesha is so pleased by the gift of durva grass.
There once was a vicious demon named Anlasur. He was feared by all. Anlasur showed no mercy.
Anlasur was known to swallow innocent people alive, including saints and sages. His cruelty shocked the world.
He had to be stopped.
Indra, who was the leader of the gods, made several attempts to conquer Anlasur. Indra did not stand a chance. There was an outburst of panic throughout the world. All the gods who were trying to fight Anlasur knew they need help and turned Shankar (Shiva) for advice.
They were told the only god who would be able to help them was Ganesh. Ganesh was pot-bellied which indicated he would be a perfect candidate to swallow the evil demon.
After being offered prayers, Ganesh was willing to come to the rescue. He faced Anlasur and had no problem swallowing this evil demon. Anlasur was no more.
Everyone rejoiced, except Ganesh. His stomach really hurt severely and gave him a burning sensation. It was extremely unpleasant. All treatments were tried to cure the bellyache. Nothing worked.
Ganesh was in great distress, it was unbearable.
A sage named Kashyap came to the rescue. He travelled up to Mount Kailash and collected 21 stems of durva grass. Kashyap offered the durva grass to Ganesh.
Moments after Ganesh had consumed the durva grass, all his pains magically disappeared. The durva grass worked wonders. Now we know why Ganesh is thankful for anyone offering him durva grass.
Ladoos, the Favorite Sweets of Ganesh
Ladoos are sweets made of flour, dried milk and sugar. It is known that Ganesh absolutely loves these sweets. It is quite common to offer these sweets to Ganesh. Doing so with devotion is important to the devotee if they want to see their desires and dreams come true.
Ladoo is spelled in different ways; laddoo, ladu, laddu
In Ganpati Athvarshirsh it is written that whoever offers a thousand ladoos to Sri Ganesh finds fulfillment of personal desires.
In the Padampuran there is a story about Ganesh and the ladoos.
The gods went for a visit to Ganesh and his brother named Kartikeya (god of war). Kartikeya also goes by the names Skanda and Murugan.
The two brothers gave a very good impression. The gods decided to donate a special gift to their mother, Parvati; a heavenly ladoo.
Parvati soon understood that whoever ate this ladoo would become the most knowledgeable on the religious texts, science and art, writing and culture.
Naturally both brothers yearned to eat the ladoo. To settle the matter Parvati told her sons that whoever showed their superiority through sincere actions should receive the ladoo.
Kartikeya immediately set out for a trip around the universe determined to visit every single holy place. His vehicle was his peacock named Mayur. The peacock was swift.
Ganesh had a mouse as his vehicle and had no way of competing with his brother on his mission to visit all the places of pilgrimage.
Ganesh instead walked around his mother and father. He then stood before them and told them that fasting, making offerings or visiting holy places did not equal one-sixteenth of the devotion he had for his own father and mother.
Parvati was highly impressed with his reasoning and his love and devotion for his parents. She gave Ganesh the blessed ladoo.
Why Ganesh only has one tusk
You may have noticed that Ganesh has a broken tusk. The reason for this is that it is told that Ganesh broken off one of his tusks to use it as a pen.
Ganesh is credited with writing down the Mahabharata under the dictation of Vyasa. The sage Vyasa demanded that Ganesh could comprehend the meaning of what Vyasa recited before writing it down.
The Mahabharata is a masterpiece and one of the most important ancient epics of India. It deals with mythology, ethnics and the Hindu way of life. It consists of eighteen books.