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Ganesha is one of the most popular deities within the Hindu religion. He is the first icon that is placed in any family home because it is believed that he will help with the family’s pprosperity and success. Ganesha is “worshipped in millions of households throughout India.” People turn to Ganesha when searching for a better profession, more wealth, a new car, and better grades in school, anything that will grant them a better life. It is said that Ganesha’s “blessings are sought at the beginning of a journey, at the time of a marriage, and at the beginning of all rituals and undertakings.” In placing their prayers and beliefs in Ganesha, Hindu worshippers believe that he will grant them success in future endeavors. Being the God of prosperity and success, Ganesha also has the ability to place obstacles in the path of a worshipper and also has the power to remove obstacles. It is explained that
“Ganesha is the aspect of the Supreme Being responsible for the removal of obstacles, both in a practical sense and in a spiritual sense. On the spiritual path, our obstacles might be our weaknesses or our ego. When we pray to Ganesha, we ask him to help remove those obstacles within the self. There is a mythological story about his origins: How the goddess Parvati created Ganesha from herself. When Shiva came home, he mistook him for an intruder and cut off his head. When he realized his terrible mistake, Shiva replaced Ganeshas head with that of an elephant. Its a story. But for me, I think that when Hindus long ago imagined the divine form who would remove obstacles from the path, it is natural that they saw the mighty elephant as such a form.”
For this reason, Ganesha is one of the best known and worshipped Gods. Everyone in the world wants to have a successful life. Ganesha has the ability to grant both ability and inability of accomplishment.
Ganesha has a very distinct image that makes him very different from the rest of the Hindu Deities. To begin, the most obvious distinction was when Ganesha was born he was given the head of an elephant. It is said that “Ganesha is only an appellative name, the highest title of the deity, whose original name must have had to do with the wearing of the elephant head, such as ‘Gajavadadana’ or ‘Gajanana.’” There are several stories told as to how he was given this head. The most popular is the story that one day Parvati created a boy and assigned him the task of guarding the bathroom. But when Shiva (Father) returned to the house he was surprised by the young boy standing there, stopping him from entering his own home. In anger, Shiva then removed the boys head. Parvati was devastated. Shiva then sent out for a head to be attached back onto the body. An elephant head was brought back and Shiva then attached it to the young boy’s body and thereafter given Deity powers. Secondly, there is no confirmed number as to the number of Ganesha’s arms. There has been said he has from between two and sixteen arms on different occasions. In more modern photos and texts, Ganesha has appeared with only four arms. Each objects that Ganesha carries a significant importance. In these photos, Ganesha carries a Goad in upper right hand, a broken tusk in lower right hand, a noose in left hand, and a Rosary in the bottom left hand. He is a very elaborate looking God. It is said that “Ganesha is adorned with diadem, necklace, armlets, bracelets and anklets.”
It is believed that Ganesha came to prominence during the 4th and 5th centuries AD. Images and temple representations have been dated back to as early as the Gupta period. It isn’t until centuries later when we find proof of the celebration. It is during the 10th century AD that we see an independent cult for Ganesha rise. It has been told that “Ganesha was originally a Dravidian deity worshipped by aboriginal populations of India who were sun worshippers.” The celebration continued to spread for centuries as it still continues to this day. Ganesha is worshipped across the world by many Hindu believers.