Lord Ganesha

        One of the most popular Gods in India, lord Ganesh or Ganpati is considered a symbol of wisdom and a bringer of good luck. It is said that his elephant head epitomizes everything related to wisdom small shrewd eyes, long ears that miss nothing, a long nose that can smell out anything and his vehicle, a mouse, reflects how much importance a wise man gives to the smallest of life forms. Shown at gateways and on doors, either by visual or symbols, generally facing the rising sun in the east, Ganesh is revered across India as a great clearer of obstacles. Meetings, gatherings, weddings, functions and celebrations begin with a prayer of lord Ganesh and no new venture it a new company, a new house, a new shop is inaugurated without reciting a 'mantra' of lord Ganesh.

        Ganesha or Ganpati is an extremely popular God in India. He is called Vighneshvara or Vighnaharta, the Lord of and destroyer of obstacles. People mostly worship Him asking for Siddhi, success in undertakings, and Buddhi, intelligence. He is worshipped before any venture is started. He is also the God of education, knowledge and wisdom, literature, and the fine arts.

        Ganesha is also one of the five Gods the worship of whom was popularized by Adi Shankaracharya; the other four being Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti and Surya. The worship of these five deities is called the Panchaayatana Puja.

        It is said that Ganesha was born when the eternal couple contemplated on AUM. If you view Lord Ganesha sideways, then you will see the symbol AUM in sanskrit. That's why Ganesha is called Aumkara and worshipped first. AUM is Pranava. What is meant by Pranava?(Pra is short for prakriti and navam means excellent boat) That is, AUM is the way to cross the ocean of worldly existence.

        The trunk should be curved to the left for normal idols. If it is curved to the right, it is called Siddhi Vinayaka and needs special worship. One should be very careful in worshipping such idols.

Why should we pray Lord Ganesha?

     Everyone has a doctorate, job, works, earns money, begets children. But is anyone truly happy ? No. They are all cycling on the ups and downs of life. In essence, they have missed out on the true purpose of life. By holding back and taking the ride of life, they have lost the true meaning.
        Sometime we delve into maya and hope for things to happen, and sometimes they do and sometimes they don't but this hope is what holds us back from experiencing Her love. That's why I call upon my Mother's child, Lord Ganesha, to help me discriminate between the real and the unreal so that the mind is never enveloped by maya.

        All we need is Him and He will decide what you want.
        If you have everything and Him, it is fine.
        If you have nothing besides Him, it is fine too.
        If you have everything but Him, it is useless.

        Ganesha, with His ears acting as a winnowing basket, will give His true devotees only what is needed for spiritual progress, and will not give them what they ask for. With Him in my heart, what else should I ask for ? Nothing. Will material pleasure ever satisfy the mind ? Never.


Ganesha worshiping Shiva
            Centuries ago during a war between the Gods and the Demons, Lord Shiva was away for a long time. His wife, Goddess Parvati, afraid of being alone for an extended period used her divine powers and created a son, Ganesh, and gave him the responsibility of protecting the house. When Lord Shiva and his army, returned victorious to his home, Parvati was in her bath, and Ganesh had been strictly instructed not to allow anyone in. Angered by Ganesh's refusal to allow him in to the house, Lord Shiva and his army chopped off the boy's head. When Parvati came out of her bath, she was shocked and grieved to see her son dead. Lord Shiva, to pacify, her proclaimed that the head of Ganesh would be replaced by that of the first creature that came up the hill. As luck would have it the first visitor to the hill was an elephant and his head was promptly cut off and placed on that of Lord Ganesh, and life was restored to the son of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati. To pacify his wife further and compensate for the act of killings own son, Lord Shiva bestowed upon Ganesh the powers of a God and blessed him that henceforth no activity will begin without invoking your name and blessings. Since then, it is said, no new venture - the inauguration of accompany, the opening of a shop, the foundation of a building, entering a new home  is deemed complete by Hindus without a Ganesh puja.
        Ancient Hindu texts are filled with tales about Lord Ganesh, his powers, wisdom and goodness, one of the most delightful being the one about a contest between him and his brother, Kartikeya. Kartikeya was very proud of his mount, the peacock, and his own speed and efficiency, challenged lord Ganesh to a race around the world 7 times. While Kartikeya made a tour of the world thrice, Ganesh just encircled lord Shiva and goddess Parvati, his parents 7 times, and claimed victory. The story is often related to inculcate in children the importance of God and their parents.


These are the famous Ashta(eight) holy places in Mahrashtra where Ganpati is believed to present in some form.

The famous Ashtavinayakas are: