Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesha is worshiped at the commencement of all undertakings in faith as the remover of all obstacles to one’s success, the provider of protection and wisdom, and he is often seated at the entrance of temples and shrines. Great preceptors, holy shrines, and sacred texts all hail Ganesha as the God of dharma, the symbol of wisdom, and the protector of all religious rituals. As with many of the Hindu gods and goddesses, Ganesa is known by many names, and any list is bound to be incomplete. Regardless of one’s philosophical viewpoint, all Hindus venerate Ganesha.

The most popular belief about the birth of Ganesha states that Parvati required a guard at the door to her chamber as Shiva was away from home. She created a young boy and stationed him at the entrance to her chamber, and instructed him to prevent anyone from entering into her chamber.

Shortly thereafter, Shiva returned and demanded access to Parvati. The boy, minding his mother’s injunction, declined to give him entry. Outraged, Shiva ordered his attendants to decapitate the child (in some versions it is Shiva himself who undertakes the act). When Parvati realizes that her husband beheaded her child, she demands that Shiva rectify the situation by finding her child a new head. Shiva put the head of an elephant on the child’s headless body; this is Ganesha.

- The Encyclopedia of Hinduism


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