Shri Ganapati or Shri Ganesh as he is also known, is widely known as the remover of obstacles. It is customary to invoke him before beginning any auspicious work and therefore is one of the most worshiped deity by Hindus. Other than this, Shri Ganapati is also the Lord of Budhi or intelligence and is also named Budhipriya. He is variously called Vighneshvara, Lord of obstacles who not only sets obstacles for those who need to be checked but also removes them.
Shri Ganapati is distinctive with a head of elephant though he has the body of a human. There are innumerable folklores as to how he got his elephant head. He is said to be the son of Parvati, Lord Shiva’s consort. She created him to guard the door while she was bathing. One of the most common stories is that Shiva beheaded him in anger when he refused to let Him go in and came between Him and Parvati. Later repenting for his deed he replaced it with an elephant’s head which was brought by his gana or squad. Shiva made him his squad’s leader or ‘pati’ which is why he is named Ganapati. He also granted that Shri Ganpati would be invoked before starting any work. Shri Ganesh has a brother Kartikeya, the Lord of War and there are several sibling rivalry stories about them too.
Shri Ganpati is also known as Ekdanta or having just one tusk. The story goes that he broke off his tusk himself to write when he was being dictated the Mahabharata. This is a symbol of supreme sacrifice made to complete the task given to him.Shri Ganapati is shown as having four hands and holds the broken tusk in his lower right hand and in the other he holds the rosary which implies that knowledge can be had with unrelenting, continuous effort. He holds a goad in his upper right hand with which he removes obstacles and the noose in the left hand imprisons all difficulties. His vahana or vehicle is the mouse which is said to denote his humbleness. Another view is that rats cause a lot of damage to crops and as an impediment remover Lord Ganapati rides it to control it. His elephant head symbolises wisdom while his trunk stands for Om, the symbol of the unknowable creator, God. He is usually offered Laddoos or round sweets along with other offerings.
Though Shri Ganapati is worshiped daily in most Indian household along with Shri Lakshmi, he is especially worshiped on Ganesh Chaturthi, which falls on the fourth day of the waxing moon. In addition to this he is always invoked before every ritual or the beginning of any enterprise. It is said that Shri Ganapati not only protects from adversity but also grants success and prosperity.
It is usual to recite the Mantra “Om Shri Ganeshaya Namah” before beginning anything, especially for success in education or before writing any text . Another Mantra which is chanted to invoke him is ” Om Gam Ganpataye Namah” especially for removal of obstacles in a journey or for the success of any new pursuit.
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