Remover of obstacles, god of births & other beginnings, patron of arts and sciences, deva of wisdom
Other names: Ganesa, Ganesha, Ganapati
Son of Shiva and Parvati, brother of war god Kartikeya. There’s considerable debate about his wife, but two sons are attributed to him: Kşema (prosperity) and Lābha (profit).
Ganesh got his elephant head when, as a young man, he stood guarding his mother when Parvati was taking a bath. He did not know his father, so when Shiva came in, Ganesh blocked his path. Shiva’s angry glare burned his head to ashes. But when Shiva saw how sad this made Parvati he repented and gave his son an elephant’s head.
Ganesh is worshipped not only at the beginning of religious rituals, but also on secular occasions such as buying a new car or starting a new business. As the remover of obstacles, he is often called upon in practical matters, and invoked for the lucky beginning of all kinds of ventures.
- One of his tusk is broken, because he used the end of it to write a holy text.
- The color red is sacred to Ganesh.
- In some stories the mouse at Ganesha’s feet, who serves as his mount, is the giant god Kroncha, put into rodent form to learn humility. In others he is tiny Mushika, symbolizing the god’s ability to accomplish things that seem impossible to humans.
- Ganesh may hold a chakra wheel, a sacred conch shell, a lotus, a sacred thread, and an elephant goad