Ganesha, the elephant-headed God, is worshipped by the Hindus as the god of wisdom, prosperity, and good fortune. Lord Ganesha is also popularly known as Ganpati, Ganesh, Vinayaka, and Pillaiyar and is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, also termed ‘Dukhharta’. As the God of beginnings, Lord Ganesha is honoured at the start of rites and ceremonies. He is also invoked before starting anything auspicious and during learning or writing sessions. Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and the brother of Kartikeya or Murugan, is one of the most popular deities in Hinduism. As Ganesh Chaturthi 2023 nears, here’s all you need to know about the history, culture and traditions related to Lord Ganesha. From 'Sukhkarta Dukhharta' to 'Vakratunda Mahakaya', Welcome Bappa With These Devotional Songs This Ganesh Chaturthi 2023.

Ganesha has been represented with the head of an elephant for ages. Puranic myths provide many explanations for how he got his elephant head. Scholars differ about his origins, dating him between the 1st century BCE and the 2nd century CE. However, Ganesha was well established by the 4th and 5th centuries CE, during the Gupta period, and had inherited traits from Vedic and pre-Vedic precursors. In the Ganapatya tradition of Hinduism, Ganesha is the Supreme Being. The principal texts on Ganesha include the Ganesha Purana, the Mudgala Purana, and the Ganapati Atharvasirsha. The Hindu title of respect Shri is often added before his name.

Lord Ganesha is rightly called the ‘Remover of Obstacles’, and hence, he is invoked at the beginning of any endeavour or undertaking to remove obstacles and ensure its success. He is considered the patron deity of artists, writers, and students. The most common mantra associated with Ganesha is ‘Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha’, which is chanted to seek Ganesha's blessings.

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The name 'Ganesha' is a Sanskrit compound formed by joining the words Gana (gaṇa), meaning a 'group’ and ‘isha’ which means 'lord or master'. As per records, the earliest mention of the word Ganapati is found in hymn 2.23.1 of the 2nd-millennium BCE Rigveda, it is however uncertain that the Vedic term referred specifically to Ganesha. The Amarakosha, an early Sanskrit lexicon, lists eight synonyms of Ganesha: Vinayaka, Vighnaraja (equivalent to Vighnesha), Dvaimatura (one who has two mothers), Gaṇadhipa (equivalent to Ganapati and Ganesha), Ekadanta (one who has one tusk), Heramba, Lambodara (one who has a pot belly, or, literally, one who has a hanging belly), and Gajanana (Gajanana); having the face of an elephant.

Ganesh Chaturthi 2023 (File Image)

There are different versions of Ganesha’s origin, but one common one involves his creation by Parvati using her own body's dirt and oils. As per legends, it was created to guard the entrance while she bathed, and it was during this time that Lord Shiva, who was away, returned and was prevented from entering. In a fit of rage, Lord Shiva beheaded Ganesha. Upon realizing the mistake, he replaced Ganesha's head with that of an elephant.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Sep 15, 2023 02:38 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).