Ganesh is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
Although he is known by many attributes, Ganesha’s elephant head makes him easy to identify. Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. As the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies.
India and Hinduism has had an impact on many countries of East Asia and the Indian Subcontinent as a result of commercial and cultural contacts. Ganesha is one of many Hindu deities who reached foreign lands as a result. The worship of Ganesha by Hindus outside of India shows regional variation. The acceptance of Hindu ideas in ancient times still continue today in world religions.
In Thailand, Ganesha is called Phra Phikanet or Phra Phikanesuan and is worshipped as the deity of fortune and success, and the remover of obstacles. He is associated with arts, education and trade. Ganesha appears in the emblem of the Department of Fine Arts in Thailand. Large television channels and production companies have shrines in his honour in front of their premises. Few movies or television shows begin shooting without a Hindu ritual in which prayers and offerings are made to Ganesha. There are shrines to Ganesha across Thailand. One of the most revered shrines is the Royal Brahmin Temple in central Bangkok by the Giant Swing, where some of the oldest images can be found. Other old Ganesha images can be seen throughout Thailand, including a 10th-century bronze image found at Phang-Na with both Tamil and Thai inscriptions. The Hindu temple “Wat Phra Sri Umadevi” in Silom also houses a Ganesha image which was transported from India in the late 19th Century. Thai Buddhists frequently pay respect to Ganesha and other Hindu deities as a result of the overlapping Buddhist/Hindu cosmology. He is honoured with Motaka, sweets and fruit, when business is good, and he is made ridiculous by putting his picture or statue upside down, when business is down. As lord of business and diplomacy, he sits on a high pedestal outside Bangkok‘s CentralWorld (formerly World Trade Center), where people offer flowers, incense and a reverential sawasdee.
Mythological anecdotes of Ganesha
Lord Ganesh is the virtual son of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvathi. The story of creation of ganesh is a very fascinating one.
A long long time ago when Lord Shiva, was away fighting for the gods, the lady of the house, goddess Parvathi was alone at home. On one occasion, she needed someone to guard the house when she was going for a bath. Unable to think of an alternative, she used her powers to create a son, Ganesh. She instructed Ganesh to keep strict vigil on the entrance to the house and not to allow anyone into the house. Ganesh agreed and stayed on the strictest of strict vigils.
In the meantime Lord Shiva returned happy after a glorious victory for the gods, only to be stopped at the entrance by Ganesh. Ganesh, acting on Parvathi’s orders verbatim, did not allow Shiva to enter the house. Lord Shiva was enraged beyond control and in a fit of rage slashed the head of Ganesh. In the meantime Paravti came out from her bath and was aghast at the scene. She was very very angry at her lordship for what had happened and explained him the situation.
Lord Shiva wanted to make it up to Parvathi very badly and agreed to put life back into Ganesha by putting the head of the first sleeping living creature that came in sight which was sleeping with its head to the north. He sent his soldiers to go in search of the creature. The first creature which came in sight was an elephant. So Lord Shiva re-created his son with the head of the elephant. Hence the trunk of Lord Ganesha.
Parvathi was still not totally happy with the deal and wanted more. Then Shiva granted Ganesha a boon that before beginning of any undertaking or task people would worship Lord Ganesh. Thus the reason for worship of ganesha before start of any work.
Why Lord Ganesha has a broken tusk
There are several stories, but the most popular versions are:
He broke off a tusk and used it as a pen of writing Mahabharata, an epic poem of the Indian sub-continent, which is one of the most important text of the Hindu faith.
Ganesha and the mouse
According to one interpretation, Ganesha’s divine vehicle, the mouse or mooshikam represents wisdom, talent and intelligence.
Both Ganesha and the Mooshak love modaka, a sweet dish which is traditionally offered to them both during worship ceremonies.