Ganesh: Images & Text

As the legend goes, Parvati was rather disappointed that none of the guards she appointed out of Lord Shiva's army failed to stop him from barging into her private chambers. She decided to have someone who would be entirely her own and place no one above her. Hence, she created Lord Ganesh from her own soil and water from the Ganges. 
This makes Parvati and Ganga his mothers and he sometimes also known as Dwimatri Having created the figure, Parvati infused life into him and told him to ensure that nobody, but nobody entered her rooms while she bathed. Lord Shiva soon came in and was stopped by Lord Ganesh. This enraged Lord Shiva and beheaded the boy. This enraged Parvati to such an extent that she asked Goddess Durga & Goddess Kali to destroy everything and everyone.
To appease her, Lord Shiva beheaded an elephant and attached the head to Lord Ganesh's slain torso. Lord Brahma brought the boy back to life and they took him to Parvati.
Parvati still had a few conditions to be fulfilled by the Gods for her son before she agreed to cease the havoc created by the Shaktis. She asked that he should be invincible, the giver of victory and God of wisdom. The person who worships him should gain success and property. She also wanted that nobody should be permitted to heaven before pleasing him and it should be compulsory to first invoke him before any other deity. These were all granted to Lord Ganesh, by the triumvirate of Gods, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva
Lord Shiva appointed Lord Ganesh as the leader of his gana (public) and called him Ganapati, literally meaning, leader of people. Ganapati represents all the qualities that a leader should have. 
A leader should listen to everybody, therefore the large ears. He should have nose to scent out the smallest problem, which a large trunk does with sensitivity. A large forehead is an indicator of a brilliant mind. It is important for the leader not to let out all that he knows or all that he has been told, that is why Lord Ganapati has large stomach
Once Lord Shiva was resting, Parshuram came to meet him. Being rather a favourite of Lord Shiva, Parshuram did not expect to be stopped by Lord Ganpati and was offended when he was. In anger, he raised his axe to attack Lord Ganpati. This put the latter in a quandary, since the axe was boon from Lord Shiva which could not go in vain. As a compromise, he took the blow on one of his tusks losing it for ever. Hence, he is also called Ekdanti
On reaching marriageable age, Lord Ganesh and his brother Kartikeya went to their parents and said that they wanted to get married. They were told that whoever amongst them first circumnavigates the world thrice would be married first. Kartikeya took off on his peacock, but Lord Ganesh knew that he had no hope to match that speed on his mouse. Using his wisdom, he calmly took seven circles around his parents and said that according to the Vedas circumnavigation of one's parents is as sacred as going around the world. He has two wives : Riddhi (prosperity) and Siddi (success)
Public Lord Ganesh Festival (Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav)
It was during the British rule, In India, that the first Public Ganapati first made its appearance. Dissent was fast spreading and the British were wary of any congregation. They passed a blanket rule that no large group of people would be allowed to meet together in any public place. All Public meetings were banned. One of the greatest freedom fighters of India, Shri Bal Gangadhar Tilak, did not take this kindly. He made up his mind to break this illogical rule and established the first ever Sarvajanik Ganapati. Since this was about the religion, the British could not find political offence. They had learned the lesson during the great freedom war of 1857. Thus the British threat to a public meeting was diffused by Tilak and the gaiety of a people's festival established for all time to come.
In modern times, this festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm, in the western part of the country. The idol, of Lord Ganesh is worshiped for days and then immersed on a auspicious day.
Lord Ganpati the World over:

Lord Ganpati has a widespread presence, not just India. The Greek good of wisdom is known as Janus, is pictured with the head of an elephant. As with Ganapati, Janus too is the first God to be invoked at the start of any prayer or auspicious occasion.
In Mexico there is a elephant headed, human torso God worshiped.
There is Lord Ganpati temple in Sri Lanka, about 200 KM from Colombo.
King Ashoka's daughter Charumati established a Ganpati temple in Nepal and there he is known as Suryaganpati.
Combodia has idols dating back to the 13th century and here the name is Prahaganpati.
In Japan, he is known as Vinayakshra, in Java He is known as Kalantak

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