Ganesha- The Global God
As a culture Hinduism is perhaps the most widely accepted religions. Lord Ganesha is an extremely important God in Hinduism. Lord Ganesha has 108 names, each holding a specific meaning. He is also the most worshiped Hindu deities and is particularly popular in India and Nepal. The devotion to Lord Ganesha is widely diffused across other cultures also. Historically Ganesha emerged as an important deity in the 4th and 5th century, during the reign of the Guptas. The earliest known idol of Lord Ganesha is located in the Shiva temple at Bhumra. His following strengthened around the 10th century in India. The name Vinayaka for Lord Ganesha is not just mentioned in the Puranas but also the Buddhist mantras. Lord Ganesha is also known as the Lord of the Ganas in Sri Lanka.
Ancient temples and excavations show that the worship of the God of wisdom is spread across the globe. The physical attributes of Lord Ganesha vary in Java, Bali, Borneo, Vietnam, Bangkok and Burma. Here Lord Ganesha is mainly thought of as a remover of obstacles and also as the God of success. Worship of Ganesha was in vogue before Islam arrived in Afghanistan but no conclusive evidence exists to prove the statement. A few sculptures discovered between 5th and 7th century is proof of the same. In northern China statues with inscription dated to 531 exist in many parts. Presence of Lord Ganesha is also there in Tibet. The beliefs are ambivalent in nature, which is depicted by various idols across Tibet. Sri Lanka which is dominantly a Buddhist country has about 14 ancient temples of Lord Ganesha.
There is a strong influence of Lord Ganesha in the Malay Peninsula also. Temples were built around the 6th century in various locations including Petaling Java, Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Pudu and Melaka. A dancing Ganesha is evident in the Malay Archipelago in the temple of Candi Sukuh. Other countries, that have Ganesha temples, are Mauritius (in Riviere du Rempart) and Singapore.
The popularity of Lord Ganesha not just spreads across Asia but also South and Central America and Mexico. In the modern times a significant following of Lord Ganesha exists in Britain, Australia Germany, France and Canada. Some of the popular temples of Ganesha stand tall in London, New York, Paris, Durban, Hamburg, Melbourne and Edmonton. Comparisons of Lord Ganesha to Janus, the two headed Roman God, also exist. No conclusive evidence of Lord Ganesha’s worship in Roman culture has been found despite the similarity.
It is not just globally that Ganesha is worshiped but also in various other cultures. Where Ganesha appears as an avatar of Budhdha in Ganesha Purana, he is also shown as a different idol in Tibet. Ganesha is even represented as an idol with one to five heads. Ganesh Chaturthi in India is more of a universal festival then a festival celebrated by Hindus. The popularity of this deity not just spreads across borders but also spreads across hearts.