Ganesh is one of the most beloved gods of the Hindu people, as well as the most important. The son of Shiva and Parvati, no spiritual worship in the Hindu belief system is initiated until the Lord Ganesh is invoked. The Lord Ganesha is not only celebrated amongst Hindus, but also Jains, Buddhists and pagans the world over.
Lord Ganesh is the remover of all obstacles. Before a devotee of Lord Ganesh begins a new endeavor, they pray to Ganesh to remove any and all obstacles, as well as to grant them the wisdom and intellect to succeed.
Whether the new project involves architecture, writing, or creating a business, those who follow Ganesh will always ask for his grace, protection and wisdom for the venture.
Hindu students who are nearing important projects or exams, will honor Lord Ganesh, as he is also the patron of letters and learning. Indeed, it was Ganesh who authored much of the Mahabharata Epic, which is an account of the Kurukṣetra War. The broken tusk that Lord Ganesh is sometimes seen holding, represents is act of writing parts of the Mahabharata Epic.
Imagery of Lord Ganesh is extremely symbolic. His image can be seen throughout India and in pagan households throughout the world. The Lord Ganesh has the head of an elephant with one broken tusk.
The broken tusk symbolizes the fact that a wise person is beyond duality. An elephant’s trunk is extremely strong, yet it can also handle delicate objects. This signifies that wisdom is strong, yet discriminates. The large ears symbolize the ability to hear all, and to apply wisdom to all one hears.
Ganesh has four arms and is rather stout physically. In one hand, Ganesha holds an axe, which symbolizes detachment from the world. In another, he grasps a lotus flower, which is the symbol of enlightenment.
His third hand holds some of his favorite sweets: laddus which are delicious, sweet, spherical treats found in India. These sweets symbolize the rewards one receives if one lives a good and wise life. His fourth hand is usually in the position to bless his people.
Ganesh is often seen as sitting with one foot touching the ground, while the other is above ground. This position states that all people who are wise and discerning, are part of this world, yet are also spiritual.
When Lord Ganesh is depicted in a lotus sculpture, he will be seen holding rice or laddus, a pasam and a goad. In the lotus depiction, the pasam is a weapon which is constructed of three twines.
The first twine symbolizes arrogance, the second ‘Maya’ or illusion, and the third, ignorance. The goad is used to show that one who is wise, will move themselves away from arrogance, Maya and ignorance.
It is important to remember that in Hinduism, weapons symbolize the defeat of negativity, and do not represent war.
There are several celebrations that center around Lord Ganesh. First and foremost, his birthday, which occurs around August/September. Followers celebrate his birthday by constructing a Ganesh Pandal.
You can create the Ganesh Murti yourself or purchase one. After which, you immerse it in water, which represents how the Lord Ganesh will wash away your obstacles, which ensures a new beginning.
The Pancha Ganapati Festival happens in December and will last for five days, from December 21 to 25. Initiated in 1985, it represents a form of ‘Christmas’ for Hindus, also known as the Family Festival of Giving.
Instead of one day of gifts, the Hindu’s celebrate 5 days of gifts. This is a family festival where individuals work on reconciliations, blessings and creating harmony in their lives.
Though there are many temples in India devoted to Lord Ganesh, his followers will often have shrines set up within their homes or places of business. These shrines are unique, but have similar elements.
These elements include an image or sculpture of Lord Ganesh as well as red flowers. Mantras, such as “Om Gam Ganapataye Namah” (Om, Gam, Salutation to the Lord of Hosts), are also performed.
Devotees will also include incense sticks, fruits and sweets such as laddus and modaka as an offering. Ganesh loves the color red and devotees will use red sandalwood paste, or raktachandana in worship as well.
Many European pagans and wicca’s hold Lord Ganesh very highly in their personal pantheon of deities. They believe that the Lord Ganesh and his ability to remove obstacles, love of art and science enrich their lives.
European pagans and wicca’s often work to create a personal relationship with Ganesh and actively incorporate the Lord Ganesh into their own belief system. Western pagans and wiccas will often choose Wednesday as a preferred day to offer devotion, as Wednesday is the day of the planet Mercury, the planet for success.
Behold the Lord Ganesh, the god of success and the destroyer of obstacles, also called ‘Vighneshwara’. He blesses those who show devotion, wisdom, intelligence and compassion to all things.
Indeed, he is the symbol of all things new, they symbol of new beginnings. His followers are kind and respectful of others, and respect learning, entrepreneurship, spirituality and compassion.