Lord Ganesha, the older son of Lord Shiva is the Lord of knowledge. He has an elephantine head and a human body. He is attributed with the titles of Siddhidata (Donor of success) Vinayak (knowledgeable) and Vighneshwar (the God who removes obstacles). He is also worshipped as the go of wisdom, education and wealth.
Each part of the Ganesha has iconographic significance. Ganesha’s head represents the atma or the soul of human beings, signifying the ultimate reality of life. His human body represents maya or the illusory physical existence of humans. His belly contains infinite universes. Ganesha’s curved trunk represents ‘Oum’, the sound symbol of cosmic reality. His big, fan like ears symbolise his attention to the prayers of his devotees. The position of his legs symbolises the importance of participating in both the material and spiritual world. His goad rids all difficulties and leads human beings ahead in the path of eternal wisdom. The noose in Ganesha’s left hand is employed to capture all difficulties. The broken tusk that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice. The rosary in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous. The sweets indicate the sweetness of atma and the serpent symbolises power. His vahan is a tiny mouse.
The most popular and beloved of Indian deities, Ganesha is believed to be the harbinger of good fortune and this is why he is invoked first in any Hindu ceremony or festival. As he is (India), Ganesha Chaturthi (Festival of Lord Ganesha) is celebrated there for ten consecutive days. Ganesha Chaturthi is also celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion throughout India.
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