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Lord Ganesh is the Hindu elephant-headed god, with one tusk. Ganesh is known (by various names in different parts of India and on different occasions) as the Remover of Obstacles, the god of domestic harmony and of success. Ganesh, the son of Parvati (the wife of Shiva, the Destroyer, the most powerful of the Hindu trinity of principal gods) is always invoked first in any Hindu ceremony or festival. There are many stories about how Ganesha got his elephant head, and about his exploits and antics.
Ganesh is the elephant-headed God. The legend of how he got his elephant head and one tusk is a fascinating one. One day Parvati, Shiva's beloved wife, instructed Shiva's attendant Nandi not to let anyone in while she was taking a bath. A little later Shiva arrived wishing to enter. Nandi was in a dilemma as how to stop his master. Shiva entered, Parvati was not ready to receive him and was upset. He was amused to hear that Parvati had asked Nandi to stop him from entering his own home.
Parvati was annoyed. She shared her feelings with her friends. They teased Parvati by saying that she had no attendant of her own. They all considered Shiva their true master.
One of Parvati's friends came up with the idea to create a person who would owe his first allegiance to Parvati and not to Shiva. So Parvati gathered the saffron paste (used at the time of bathing), from her own body and created a strong and handsome boy. She gave the boy a staff and asked him to guard the door. A little later when Shiva arrived and approached the door, the boy stopped him. Shiva explained to the boy that he was Parvati's husband and he had the right to enter without asking any one. When Shiva ignored him, the boy hit him with his staff. Shiva got furious and tried to fight the young boy only to realize that he was no ordinary boy. Shiva asked his attendants to capture the boy but single-handedly, the boy defeated all of them.
News reached Parvati
through her friends and she conveyed her message to her friend that he should not allow
any one to enter the palace. On hearing this Shiva's pride was hurt. Shiva was so angry
that he sent his entire army to capture the boy. Parvati called for her other powers, Kali
and Durga and asked them to stand beside her son. Shiva's army lost the battle and the
attendants ran for their lives.
Shiva then called Vishnu to
join him in defeating the small boy. While the boy was engaged in fighting with Vishnu,
Shiva threw his Trident and beheaded the boy. When Parvati heard of the unfair fight she
decided to destroy the world. Brahma humbly approached Parvati, seeking for mercy to save
the world. Parvati agreed on two conditions that her son must regain his life and he shall
be worshipped before any of the other gods.
By that time Shiva had calmed down and apologized for his rash behavior. He agreed to bring the boy back to life. He asked Brahma to go North and bring the head of the first creature that crossed his path. Brahma left with his party and soon brought back the head of a strong elephant. The head was then fitted to the body of the boy and Brahma sprinkled water on it. The boy came to life with an elephant's head on his shoulder.
Indra and the other gods
brought Shiva to Parvati. Shiva apologized for his arrogance and declared, "Hence on,
this valiant boy will be my son. He will be respected as any other God and will be
worshipped before any other God. He will be called Ganesh, the chief of my Ganas or
attendants, and also Vigneshwar, the remover of all obstacles."
Shiva and Parvati once
again began to live happily in their abode at mount Kailash. Many years later, Shiva was
taking a nap when Ganesh was guarding him. At that moment Parashuram, the Brahmin warrior,
came to see Shiva. Much to his dismay he was stopped by Ganesh. Parashuram was unwilling
to take orders from anyone. As a result, a big fight ensued. Finally, Parashuram threw his
powerful ax towards Ganesh. Ganesh stopped the axe with his tusk, which broke. Thus Ganesh
lost one of his tusks and began to be known as Eka-danta, or "One
The elephant God of India who removes obstacles:
the monster was very powerful and an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He underwent penance
for many years to receive special boons from Shiva. Lord Shiva, deeply moved by his
devotion, blessed the monster and offered him a boon (reward). But Gajasura requested
Shiva to reside in his belly. Left with no option but to grant the boon, Shiva gets into
on Mount Kailash, Parvati - Shiva's wife, becomes anxious not knowing the whereabouts of
her husband after a long period of time. She searches through the whole universe but to no
avail. Finally she approaches Lord Vishnu - the preserver of the world. Vishnu disguises
himself in the form of a street player along with Nandi - the sacred bull of Shiva and
sets out in search Shiva.
go to Gajasura's kingdom and Nandi performs a dance to please the monster. The monster is
delighted to see the bull dancing in his honor and wishes to reward the bull. The bull
asks for Shiva as a reward. Hearing this, the monster realizes that the entertainer is
none but Lord Vishnu himself. He also realizes that Shiva cannot be made to live in his
stomach forever because he has his role to play in the world. He lets Shiva out of his
prays to him, that he be made immortal in the memories of people. To fulfill this wish,
Shiva severs Gajasura's head and frees him from the cycle of birth and death. He carries
the head along with him. On Mount Kailash, in the Himalayas, Parvati comes to know of
Vishnu's victory and is very happy. She makes arrangements to receive her Lord and goes to
bedeck herself. She wants somebody to stand guard.
creates a doll out of the dough that she uses in her bath. She calls him Vinayak - the one
who puts off all obstacles.
boy having never seen Shiva, prevents his entry into the palace. In a fit of fury Shiva
beheads the boy and enters the palace. Parvati is unaware of the happenings and receives
Shiva with warmth, for he had returned after a long period. During the course of their
conversation, Shiva mentions the incident at the palace gates and tells her about severing
the child's head.
is shocked to hear the news and pleads with Shiva to bring the child back to life for he
is like a son to her.
who has with him the head of Gajasura, immediately puts it on the torso of the dead child.
Thus the child comes back to life.
day is Bhadrapad Chaturthi.
Shiva blesses him with a boon that the entire world would worship him on that day and also
would propitiate him before any auspicious event.
At the same time, all the Gods approach Shiva and request for a leader.
and Parvati have a son called Kumarswami or Kartik. To select the best one of them as a
leader of all the Gods, Shiva conducts a test between the two. He says that whoever makes
three rounds of the earth sooner than the other, will be made the Ganaadhipati. Kumarswami
seated on a peacock, his vahanam (vehicle), starts off for the test.
Vinayak (Ganesh) is
given a rat, which moves swiftly. Vinayak realizes that the test is not so easy but he
cannot disobey his father. He reverently pays obeisance to his parents and goes around
them three times and completes the test before Kumarswami. He says, " my parents
pervade the whole universe and going around them, is more than going round the
earth." Everybody is pleasantly surprised to hear Vinayak's logic and intelligence.
Meanwhile, Kartik is amazed to see Ganesh completing the holy bath at each river that he
reached at and ready for another round of the universe.
When he comes back to Kailas, Shiva had already declared Vinayak as the winner. He is blessed as the Supreme God of the universe. After this, Vinayak is called as Ganaadhish, Ganapati and Ganesh. All the gods worship him. The festival of Ganesh or Vinayak Chaturthi, the day on which Ganesh was born is the most joyous event of the year . Throughout India the festival is celebrated with much enthusiasm and devotion. In Andhra Pradesh, like Maharashtra, the festival is celebrated for ten days.
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