September 19, 2012 | Comments Off on Happy Ganesh Chaturthi! | Betsy Woodman
Today is the first of eleven days of Ganesh Chaturthi, the festival celebrating the birthday of the elephant-headed Lord Ganesha. A favorite among Hindus, he’s the god of opportunities, the remover of obstacles. He’s also the patron of arts and sciences and the friend of writers.
Even followers of other religions enjoy the ceremonies surrounding his birth. Traditionally, worshippers carry brightly painted plaster of Paris figures of Ganesha to a river or the sea and submerge them. Recently, concerns about pollution have led some people to substitute clay figures or to place them in a container.
Versions of the way Ganesha got his head vary. According to one popular tradition, his father, the god Siva, beheaded him not knowing his identity, and replaced the head to appease his wife, Parvati.
Ganesha often carries a hatchet and a plate of sweets, and sometimes he holds or sits on a lotus flower. His companion is the rat (an animal that can gnaw through those obstacles.)
Here are a few of the many ways to represent him:Classic bronze figure. Ganesha reaches out with his trunk for a sweet. Sandalwood Ganesha, under a parasol. A tiny figure carved in amethyst, alas, somewhat damaged. This was a favorite of my dad’s.
Usually, Ganesha is sedentary and rotund. But here, dancing to amuse his parents, he seems to have avoided those sweets for a while!