Monday, September 24, 2012

Why does Ganesh have an elephant's head?

Ganesh is a very special god in Hindu religion.  He is the remover of obstacles.  What I find strange however is that people worship a god with an elephant's head.  How did he come to get this head.  A search on the internet and reading an Indian newspaper for children has led me to discover this story.

The goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva used to live on Mount Kailash.  One time, when Shiva was away from home, Parvati was lonely and longed for a son whom she could play with and talk to.  She decided to make a little child for herself out of dust and clay from the ground and the sweat of her own body. One day Parvati  wanted to take bath and she asked her son to guard the house and hot let anyone in.  Meanwhile Lord Shiva returned home and saw the boy sitting at the doorway, but ignoring him he proceeded to enter the palace. At that the boy stood up and tried to stop Lord Shiva, who cut off the boy's head.  Just then Parvati entered and told Shiva that he had cut off their own son's head.  Shiva was stricken with remorse and sent the gods in different directions to bring back the head of the first creature that they saw.  This creature was a baby elephant.  Shiva used his powers to join the head of the elephant with the boy's body and thus brought him back to life.  Parvati was overjoyed to have her son back, but wondered who would accept him as a god now that he had an elephant's head.  Shiva blessed him and gave him the name Ganesh or Ganpati (pati means leader) and said he would be the god that people would worship above all other gods.

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