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Ganesha, also called Ganapati, is the god of wisdom, prudence, and salvation. Ga means knowledge, na means salvation, and isa and pati mean lord. Ganesha is also said to mean 'lord of the ganas', Shiva's multitude of attendants. In south India, Ganesha is worshipped as Pillaiyar. Ganesha is represented as a short, pot-bellied man with an elephant's head with one tusk, four arms, and yellow skin. In mythology, the elephant symbolises devotion, patience and truth. His corpulent figure conveys prosperity as represented by the laddoos he is always shown with. In his hands, he holds a conch shell, a discus, a club, and a lotus . Ganesha rides on a mouse, signifying the unity of the small with the big.

According to the Shiva Purana, Ganesha was born of the scurf from Parvati's body. Once, when Shiva was away, Parvati wanted someone to guard the door while she bathed.

From the scurf of her body, she moulded a boy and gave him life. She told him to attend the door and not allow anyone to enter. Shiva returned, and when he tried to enter, was stopped by Ganesha. An argument arose, and enraged, Shiva cut off Ganesha's head and entered. When Parvati discovered that Shiva had entered by beheading her son, she was inconsolable. Repentant, Shiva ordered that the head of the first living being that was found should be brought to him. This happened to be the head of an elephant calf. He placed this on Ganesha's body and restored him to life.

The Puranas say that the fourth day of the month, known as Chaturthi, is specially Ganesha auspicious for Ganesha worship. It is believed that Ganesha was born on the chaturthi of Bhadra. However every chaturthi is considered auspicious and Ganesha Chaturthi is an important festival in India, especially in Maharashtra.

No matter what the occasion or ceremony be, Ganesha is worshipped before all other deities. For this reason, he is called Vighneshwara, the remover of all obstacles. Ganesha's mouse, by gnawing its way through everything, is said to symbolise the god's ability to destroy all obstacles.























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