Lord Ganesha, with his elephant head, human body and pot-belly is probably one of the best-known deities in India. He is also known as Ganapati, Vinayaka and Vighneshvara, the Remover of obstacles. He is invoked at the beginning of all prayers, ceremonies and improtant undertakings. He likes sweets and he dances on one leg. But how he got his elephant head?

Every story teller has his own story of how Ganesha got his elephant head. In Skanda Purana there is a story which says that Ganesha was guarding his mother, Parvati, who was bathing in Gauri kund. When Shiva came, he was stopped by Ganesha because his mother instructed him to stop all strangers.

Shiva, not recognizing his own little son due to spending years in a deep meditation on a lofty peak of the Himalaya, became very angry and cut off the boy’s head. When Parvati found out this had happened, she requested Shiva to bring him back to life and give him another head. Shiva said he would give him the head of the first living being  that came by, which happened to be an elephant. So he gave Ganesha the head of an elephant.

Ganesha at Brihadishvar Temple, Thanjavur



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