Aarti Natarajan Sharma
Lord Ganesh or Ganesha is the elephant-headed Hindu God who is traditionally worshipped before the start of any enterprise. According to Hindu mythology, he is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The meaning of the word Ganesha is twofold. It means ‘Lord of the people’ as well as ‘Lord of the ganas’, the matter of which the universe is made up of. He is said to have 108 names. The most popular ones are
Vignaharta: one who removes all obstacles
Gajanan: one with the face of an elephant
Vinayaka: God of wisdom
Ekdant: possessing one tooth
He is said to have 32 forms.
The Story of Lord Ganesh’s Birth
According to Hindu mythology, once Goddess Parvati wanted to take bath but there was no one to guard the house and prevent anyone from entering. She then created an image out of the turmeric paste (some say sandalwood paste) on her body, infused life into it and asked him to guard the gates. After some time, when Lord Shiva arrived and tried to enter, Ganesh stopped him. After several arguments followed by a fierce battle, an enraged Shiva managed to behead the boy. When Parvati saw what had happened to her son, she was very upset and ordered Shiva to restore the head. Unfortunately, the head couldn’t be found anywhere. Shiva approached Lord Brahma who said that he should take the head of the first living being and replace Ganesh’s head with that. Shiva’s disciples found a dying elephant and brought its head. And hence Lord Ganesh became the one with an elephant head. Lord Shiva bestowed him with divinity and proclaimed that he would be worshipped at the start of anything new.
There are slight variations of this story through the course of mythology but the essence stays the same.
Lord Ganesh is depicted as having an elephant head, is pot-bellied and with four arms. He usually wears red or yellow clothes. His four arms represent ego, mind, conscience, and intellect. His image is accompanied by a mouse which is considered to be his vehicle. His image is pleasing to the eye and fills the devotee with affection.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Ganesh. This year it is falling on 10 September. This is a 10-day festival and is celebrated with a lot of pomp, especially in the western states of India. Clay idols of Lord Ganesh are worshipped and then immersed in the water on the last day, known as Ganapati Visarjan.
The festival begins with Pranapratishtha or chanting of mantras in praise of Lord Ganesh. It is believed that Lord Ganesh is extremely fond of sweets, especially laddoos. These are placed in front of him during the prayers.
Shree Ganesh Nitya Aaradhana
There are several prayers dedicated to the praise of Lord Ganesh, one of the important ones being Shree Ganesh Nitya Aaradhana. This is a collection of devotional hymns praising Lord Ganesh and asking him to bestow the devotee with wisdom and clear thinking. This is often chanted before the start of any task. It consists of the Ganesh Aarti, Ganesh Vandana Sankatnashan, Ganesh Strota, Ganesh Chalisa, Shree Ganesh Shatnamavali and Shree Ganesh Sarastranamavali. This comes in a luxurious box and can be personalised with a name, a special message or a photograph. The Shree Ganesh Nitya Aardhana makes a unique and special gift for those who worship Lord Ganesh. It symbolises the prayer which should be made at the start of all new things. (Get your premium copy here.)
Benefits of Worshipping Lord Ganesh
It is believed that prayers offered to Lord Ganesh are some of the most powerful. Some of the benefits of offering prayers to him are—
- Removal of obstacles from one’s path
- Prosperity and good fortune
- Wisdom and clear thinking
- A sense of peace
Lord Ganesh is also known as the lord of the Muladhara Chakra, also known as the root chakra, at the base of our spine symbolising all source of energy and consciousness in our body. This chakra is also associated with family and stability. He stands for auspiciousness which is why he is worshipped at the start of anything new. His image and pictures are found in almost every office, home and shop and it is said that if his blessings are present then no venture can fail.