Jai Shree Ganesh
Ganesh ji is one of the most revered deities of Hindu pantheon. Before any special ceremony or auspicious occasion prayers are first offered to God Ganesha. He is also known as ‘’Vighnaharta’’ or ‘’Vighneshwara’’ and master of ‘’Riddhi-Siddhi’’ which means he removes all obstacles confronting the devotees. A prayer and an offering made to him ensure success. He is very fond of ‘’Modak’’ or’’Laddus’’. Before any ceremony or special occasion all one needs to do is chant ’’Sri Ganeshaya Namah’’ followed by the mantra
(You having the twisted trunk and the massive body, with the dazzle and light of millions of suns, Lead me on a path that has no obstacles, Clearing the way in all that I do, ever and always)
Sri Ganesh is the god of learning and knowledge.
The form of Sri Ganesh is a good example of symbolism used in Hindu religious traditions. Different parts of his body convey a message. His huge body is symbolic of cosmos. He is pictured as having a human form with an elephant head. This blend of human and animal parts is a symbolic representation of perfect human being, as conceived by the Rishis. Big elephant head symbolizes wisdom and understanding, necessary for perfection in life. His large ears sift the bad from the good, an ability of discrimination, a quality necessary for spiritual progress.
Small eyes suggest that one must concentrate. Rope or noose in one hand suggests pulling oneself nearer the highest goal. Having only one tusk suggests that retain good things and throw away the bad ones. The trunk is also symbolic of high efficiency and adaptability. Mouse, his vehicle represents desire, which unless under control can cause havoc. One must ride over the desire and keep it under control. Large ears suggest that one should listen more. Axe in one hand suggests cutting off all bonds and attachments and attaining self control on desires. It also symbolizes to cut through all obstacles. Small mouth suggests that talk less. Large belly is symbolic of peacefully digesting all good and bad in life. He swallows the sorrows of the universe and protects the world. His one foot is on the ground and the other leg is folded in a meditative pose, symbolizing a balance between practical and spiritual life. Different forms of Ganesha ji are drawn, specially with objects in his hands, e.g. prayer vessel, pot of nectar, pot of gems, prayer beads, veena etc. Sometimes a snake is drawn around his belly, which is symbolic of cosmic energy. Thus every aspect and role of Ganesha ji has meanings and interpretations by which the wisdom of this great god is conveyed to his devotees in the easiest way possible by means of symbols and their messages.
There are various legends associated with reason why the Ganesha ji is worshipped first. One of them is that when mankind was established, the question arose as to who should be considered the most revered. All the gods approached Brahma ji, who declared that whoever went around the Universe and returned first would be the most revered. Hearing this, all the gods set out on the journey in their respective modes of transport. Ganesha ji had mouse as his mode of transport and he got worried as to how could he go round the universe swiftly. He thus wrote the symbol of 'OM' on the ground and went around it seven times. He went to Brahma ji and explained what he had done. 'OM' is an embodiment of the supreme spirit and it encompasses the whole Universe and also goes beyond the periphery of time itself. On hearing this explanation Brahma ji had no other option but to declare Ganesha ji as the most revered of the gods.
Another story is written in Shivpurana. Once all the gods went to Lord Shiva to enquire as to who should be the chief amongst them. The God Shiva proposed that whoever went around the world thrice and returned to Mt. Kailash first, would be the most revered of all. Ganesha ji used his ingenuity and went around his parents, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati thrice with folded hands and then stood humbly in front of them, indicating that he had completed his task. Lord Shiva was very pleased at his son’s ingenuity and felt that Ganesha ji , by going around his parents had achieved more than he could by going around the world. Lord Shiva blessed Ganesha ji and declared that whoever offered prayers to him before any ceremony or an auspicious occasion would never face any obstacles.
Thus it has been an established custom that all mankind offer prayers to Ganesha ji before any auspicious occasion or a ceremony.