Lord Ganesha

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Ganesha, also known as Ganapati, Vinayaka, Pillaiyar and Binayak, is one of the best-known and most worshiped of Hindu Gods. His image is found throughout India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Nepal. Hindu denominations worship him regardless of affiliations. Devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends even to Jains and Buddhists. Although he is known by many attributes, Ganesha’s elephant head makes him easy to identify. Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. As the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of rites and ceremonies. Ganesha is also invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions. Ganesha is identified with the Hindu mantra Aum, also spelled Om. The term oṃkārasvarūpa (Aum is his form),

Father               :    Lord Shiva

Mother              :    Lordess Parvathi Devi

Brother             :    Lord Skanda

Consort             :    Siddhi and Buddhi

Vahana              :   Bandicoot rat

Festivals            :   Ganesha Chaturthi

Beej Mantra      :    Gum

Moola Mantra   :    Aum Gum Ganapathaye Namaha

Chakra              :    Mooladhara

Though Ganesha is popularly held to be the son of Shiva and Parvati, the Puranic myths give different versions about his birth. In some he was created by Parvati, in another he was created by Shiva and Parvati, in another he appeared mysteriously and was discovered by Shiva and Parvati or he was born from the elephant-headed goddess Malini after she drank Parvati’s bath water that had been thrown in the river.

The family includes his brother, the god of war, Kartikeya, who is also called Skanda and Murugan. Regional differences dictate the order of their births. In northern India, Skanda is generally said to be the elder, while in the south, Ganesha is considered the firstborn. In northern India, Skanda was an important martial deity from about 500 BCE to about 600 CE, after which worship of him declined significantly. 

Ganesha’s marital status, the subject of considerable scholarly review, varies widely in mythological stories. One pattern of myths identifies Ganesha as an unmarried Brahmachari. This view is common in southern India and parts of northern India. Another pattern associates him with the concepts of Buddhi (intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power), these qualities are sometimes personified as goddesses, said to be Ganesha’s wives.

Ganesha Chaturthi

This festival is marked with the installation of Ganesha clay idols privately in homes, or publicly on elaborate pandals (temporary stages). Observations include chanting of Vedic hymns and Hindu texts such as Ganapati Upanishad, prayers and vrata (fasting). Offerings and Prasada from the daily prayers, that is distributed from the pandal to the community, include sweets such as modaka believed to be a favourite of the elephant-headed deity. The festival ends on the tenth day after the start, wherein the idol is carried in a public procession with music and group chanting, then immersed in a nearby water body such as a river or ocean, thereafter the clay idol dissolves and Ganesha is believed to return to Mount Kailash to Parvati and Shiva.

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32 forms of Ganapathi

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