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Discovery of trade routes and the quest for land has contributed to inter mingling of cultures in the world. It is because of commercial and cultural contacts that Hinduism has had a huge effect particularly on East Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Ganesha is one of the Hindu deities who landed in foreign land and became a popular figure. His teachings have now become universal because of globalization.

Trade not just help built economies but also evolved cultures. The popularity of Lord Ganesha spread across different parts of the world because of the traders and the merchants. It is known that any auspicious work marked by Lord Ganesha in the beginning turns out to be fruitful. Hence the significance of Lord Ganesha holds importance in the matters of trade.  Migration of Hindus in search of promised lands also contributed to the spread of Lord Ganesha’s popularity. The period from 10th century was marked by the development of new networks of trade and exchange. Evidence of the deity in the 5th and 6th century (the Gupta period) has been found but it is through merchants that the popularity of Lord Ganesha spread across borders. The merchant community’s earliest inscription is that of Lord Ganesha, before any other deity.

The globalization of the Lord Ganesha is further substantiated by the close association of some religious sects with trade. It is through this connection of commerce that the ideas of worship of this deity were exchanged. For instance, Ganesha is worshiped by Jainas because the connection of Jainas to the trading community is strong. In Buddhism the popularity of this deity was mainly because of the Gupta. The Gupta built sculptures that depict confluence of Buddhism and Hinduism through Ganesha. In some sects and countries such as Japan, Ganesha is believed to be an avatar of Buddha.

In the modern era it is the exchange of ideas through migration that has resulted in spread of Lord Ganesha’s affluence in places other then the Indian subcontinent and East Asia. Southern and Central America, Mexico, Britain, Canada, Australia, France, Germany and even parts of the Malay peninsula have seen a rise in Hindu population. Hence one can see many temples in these countries which are extremely popular. The region of Angkor Vat for instance thrives on Hindu temples and has elaborate temples and caves depicting Hinduism. We can also find idols and carvings of Lord Ganesha in this region.

It is not just the spread of Hindus in the modern era that has contributed to the popularity of Lord Ganesha. Lord Ganesha’s teachings are more universal than any other deity in Hinduism. Although various religions may not practice the act of worship of this deity but they still hold his spiritual significance in high regard. It is the acceptance of this deity’s values that has led to the global status of Lord Ganesha.

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A lot of temples of Lord Ganesha exist in India. This is because he is an extremely popular deity in the Hindu culture. Some of them are more famous because of their historical significance, their structural genius or their architectural design.

This article talks about some of the famous places to visit in India to worship Lord Ganesha. Some of the states in India that have major temples of Lord Ganesha are Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. The magnitude of their popularity may be judged on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi when these temples are swarmed by devotees. The devotees stand in long queues for hours just to get a glimpse of the decoration and the idol of Lord Ganesha. The idol of Lord Ganesha is decorated all through the year too in these temples. Karnataka and Maharashtra witness enormous crowds on the occasion of Ganesha’s birthday. This is because most of the famous Ganesh temples are found here.

Maharashtra, for instance has Shree Siddhivinayak temples, Astavinayak, Siddhivinayak Mahaganapati Temple, Girijtmaja Vinayak and Ganapatipule Ganapati temple.

Located in Prabhadevi, Mumbai (Maharashtra, India), Shree Siddhivinayak was built in 1801. The temple has a small shrine of Ganesha and the roof is plated with gold.

“Siddhivinayak” in Sanskrit literally means “the one who grants wishes”. The name Ashtavinayak means eight Ganeshas. The term Astavinayak is coined because the eight different avatars of Ganesha can be seen in the temple premises. It is located in the city of Pune, Maharashtra.  Siddhivinayak Mahaganapati Temple is located in the Thane district in the small town of Titwala. The place has a rich religious history and hence witnesses many devotees. Girijatmaja Vinayak, one of the eight Lord Ganesha’s temples, is the one that has the sixth idol of Ganesha. It is a temple that should be visited as part of the Ashtvinayaka pilgrimage. It is located in Lenyadri on top of a hill that has about 307 steps. Located approximately 375 km south of Mumbai in the Ratnagiri district, the Ganapatipule Ganapati temple has a 400 year old Ganapathi idol that is believed to have sprung up from the soil. The deity is also believed to guard the western gates from here.

Kerala has Ganesh temples that are over three centuries old. The temples are not just popular for the sheer structural brilliance but also because of the way the idol of Lord Ganesh is worshiped here.  Shree MahaGanapathy temple, Velam Ganapathi temple, Iswaramangalam Ganapathi temple and Madhur Maha Ganapati Temple are some of the famous temples here.  The state of Tamil Nadu has Karpaka Vinayakar Temple, located at Thiruppatthur. Ganesha is also known as Pillaiyar in Tamil Nadu. Located in Sawai Madopur, Rajasthan the Ganesh temple in Ranthambore national park was build it 1300 AD. The idol of Lord Ganesh is placed along with his two wives.

The temples mentioned above are a few of the hundred temples that exist in India. These temples are a must visit for any ardent devotee of Lord Ganesha.

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“Vakratunda Mahaakaaya Suryakotee Sama Prabha ,

Nirvighnamkuru mey Deva, Sarva kaaryeshu Sarvadaa”

Ganesha Family
Lord Ganesha along with Lord Shiva and parvati. The most famous offspring that might have ever been produced.

 

The Human God made by Parvati during her bathing time and asking him to be her guardian during her bath.

 

According to the Hindu Calendar, every month has a special day dedicated to one of the Gods. The very first God who is worshipped by the Hindus is Lord Ganesha. The offering of his puja is considered to be the most important and the first big festival in the array of festivals that tend not to get over with.

Ganesh Chaturthi or “Vinayak Chaturthi” is observed in the Hindu calendar as the month of Bhadrapada, commencing on the ‘Shukla Chaturthi’ (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The festival lasts for 10 days, ending on Ananta Chaturdashi. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in order to mark the birth of the most desired son of the eternity.

According to Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesha is the son of Shiva (The God of Destruction in the Hindu Holy Trinity of Creator-Preserver-Destroyer) and Parvati (Shiva’s consort), Ganesha or Ganpati has the head of an elephant(iravat) on which rests an elegant tiara, four podgy hands joined to a sizeable gut with each hand holding its own symbolic object – a trishul or a trident in one, an ankush or goad (made from his very own broken tooth) in another, a lotus in the third and a rosary (which is sometimes replaced by modaks, his favourite sweet) in the fourth. Revered as the deity of auspiciousness and astuteness, Lord Ganesha is also famous for being a counterfeit and for his profound sense of humour.

There is a curiously interesting tale about the birth of Ganesha. It is believed that once while Parvati was bathing, she created a human figure from some unguent and salve, gave him life and asked him to guard the door while she cleansed. After a long period of meditation on Mountain Kailash (Lord Shiva’s abode), Shiva chose that very moment to drop by to see his better half, but was abruptly stopped by the man-god Parvati had posted at the door. Outraged by the impudence of this stranger, Shiva cut off his head only to discover moments later that he had killed Parvati’s son! For fear of enraging his wife, Shiva immediately dispatched his ganas (attendants) to get him the head of the first living creature they could find. The first living creature which they happened to have found was an elephant. As instructed, the head was chopped off and brought back to Shiva, who placed it on Parvati’s son’s body, bringing him back to life.

Even though the act put together by Lord Shiva didn’t enrage Parvati, she was deeply hurt. She respected what Shiva did for her but had only one thing in her mind that Shiva didn’t respect Parvati’s privacy and just wanted to enter her bathing area. With a confused mind she went to Lord Brahma to shed off her grieved mind. Lord Brahma consoled her and promised her that her son will not only be a part of entire family but also be worshipped before any god could be worshipped. By this time Lord Shiva had also regained his composure and apologised to Parvati for his rash behaviour.

This elephant-headed god was welcomed into the first family of the Hindu heavens and named Ganesha or Ganapati, which literally means the chief of the ganas, or the attendants of Shiva. Ganesha is the foremost god of the Hindu pantheon. This brave guardian of the door to Parvati’s bath is beheld today as the most auspicious God of new beginnings. He is worshipped during every festival and before people undertake a journey or embark upon a new venture. We can also see him carefully guarding entrances to temples and homes, peeping out of calendars and happily gracing marriages and other such occasion.

It is not known when and how Ganesh Chaturthi was first celebrated. The earliest Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations can be traced back to the times of the reigns of dynasties as Satavahana, Rashtrakuta and Chalukya. Historical records reveal that Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations were initiated in Maharashtra by Chatrapati Shivaji, the great Maratha ruler, to promote culture and nationalism. And it had continued ever since. Emperor Shivaji created the designation “Peshwa” in order to ensure a proper administrative system in Maratha rule, consisting of Brahmin clans, can also be considered as on one the early clique to have worshipped Ganapati. It is believed that Lord Ganapati was the family deity of the Peshwas.

Today, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in the Indian states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and many other parts of India. The festival is so popular that the preparations begin months in advance. Days before the actual worship, homes are cleaned and marquees erected at street corners to house the idols of the Lord. Elaborate arrangements are made for lighting, decoration, mirrors and flowers. While celebrated all over India, Ganesh Chaturthi festivities are most elaborate in states like Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, and other areas which were former states of the Maratha Empire. Ganesh Chaturthi is also a favourite festival among the Kokanees people, the people living by the Konkan Coast of Western India by the Arabian sea. The place is not only famous for the Ganapati festival but also for its serene and eye-catching Ganapati immersion. It’s a treat for the eye as the entire place is up on their feet and enjoys the festival to its fullest extent.

Ganesha being the god of wisdom and prosperity is worshipped in every sphere of life and still maintains his position as one of the strongest offspring’s of the world. Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most awaited festival in India. It marks the start of all the other festivals and is made a point to be celebrated vividly throughout the entire country.

 

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Ganesha the remover of all obstacles and the god of wisdom is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. He had a corpulent body, which means he contained every matter of the universe within it. He is also known as Ganapati (GanaShiva’s followers and Pati- Lord). A less popular Yagna Ganesha Sahasranaam has 1008 names lovingly devoted to Lord Ganesha. The most common 108 names among these are:

  • Akhuratha– One who has a mouse as chariot.
  • Alampata– An eternal God.
  • Amit– The one who is incomparable.
  • Anantachidrupamayam– An incarnation who is infinite and cognizant.
  • Avaneesh– Lord of this whole world.
  • Avighna– The one who removes obstacles.
  • Balaganpati– The lovable child, Ganpati.
  • Bhalachandra– One who has crescent moon adorned on his head.
  • Bheema– One who is huge and gigantic.
  • Bhupati– The lord of the ‘bhu’, the earth.
  •  Bhuvanpati– The God of the Gods.
  • Buddhinath– The God of wisdom.
  • Buddhipriya– The one who bestows knowledge.
  • Budhividhata– The God of knowledge.
  • Chaturbhuj– The one who has four hands.
  • Deva– Lord of all the Gods.
  • Devantakanashakarin– Destroyer of evils and demons.
  • Devavrata– The one who consents sacrament.
  • Devendrashikha– One who is the protector of all Gods.
  • Dharmik– One who is religious.
  • Dhoomravarna– The smoke-hued lord.
  • Durja– The invincible lord.
  • Dvaimatura– The son of two mothers.
  • Ekaakshara– One who is of the single syllable.
  • Ekdanta– The one tusked Lord.
  • Ekdrishta– The one who has one side sight.
  • Eshaanputra– The son of Lord Eshan (Shiva).
  • Gadadhara– One who has Gada (mace) as his weapon.
  • Gajakarna– One whose eyes are like an elephant.
  • Gajanana– One who is elephant faced Lord.
  • Gajananeti– Same as Gajanana.
  • Gajavakra– The trunk of an elephant.
  • Gajavaktra– The one who has mouth like an elephant.
  • Ganadhyaksha– The lord of all Ganas.
  • Ganadhyakshina– The celestial bodies’ leader.
  • Ganapati– The lord of all Ganas.
  • Gauristuta– Son of Gauri.
  • Gunina– The master of all virtues.
  • Haridra– The one who is golden colors.
  • Heramba– Mother’s beloved son.
  • Kapila– One with yellowish brown colored.
  • Kshamakaram– The place where we can get forgiveness for all the sins committed.
  • Kshipra– Easily appeasable.
  • Lambakarna– The lord with large ears.
  • Lambodara– The pot-bellied Lord.
  • Mahabala– The enormously strong Lord.
  • Mahaganapati– The omnipotent and supreme Lord.
  • Maheshwaram– Lord of the whole universe.
  • Mangalmurti– The lord who always does the auspicious.
  • Manomay– The winner of hearts.
  • Mrityunjaya-The one who had conquered death.
  • Mundakarma– The abode of happiness.
  • Muktidaya– The one who bestowes eternal bliss.
  • Mushikavahana– The one with mushika (mouse) as his charioteer.
  • Nadapratithishta-The one who is a fond lover of music.
  • Namasthetu– The vanquisher of all evils and sins.
  • Nandana– The son of Almighty Lord Shiva.
  • Nideeshwaram– The one who gives wealth and treasures to his followers.
  • Omkara– The one who has the form of Om.
  • Pitambara– The one who wears a yellow colored cloth.
  • Pramoda– The Lord of all abodes.
  • Prathameshwara– The first among all.
  • Purush– The one who has a supreme personality.
  • Rakta– The one who has a red colored body.
  • Rudrapriya– The one who is beloved to Rudra (Lord Shiva).
  • Sarvdevatman-The one who accepts all celestial offerings offered to him.
  • Sarvsiddhanta– The one who bestows skills and wisdom.
  • Sarvatman– The protector of the universe.
  • Shambhavi– Son of the Goddess Parvati.
  • Shashivarnam– The one who has a moon like complexion.
  • Shoorpnakha– The Lord with large ears.
  • Shuban– The auspicious Lord.
  • Shubhagunakanan– The master of all virtues.
  • Shweta– The one who is as pure as white color.
  • Siddhidata– The one who bestows success and accomplishments.
  • Siddhipriya– The one who bestows wishes and boons.
  • Siddhivinayaka– The one who bestows success.
  • Skandapurvaja– The elder brother of Skanda.
  • Sumukha– The one with an auspicious face.
  • Sureshwaram– The Lord of all the Lords.
  • Swaroop– The lover of beauty.
  • Tarun– The one who is ageless.
  • Uddanda– The archenemy of evils and vices.
  • Umaputra– The loving son of Goddess Uma (Parvati).
  • Vakratunda– The Lord with a curved trunk.
  • Varaganpati– The one who bestows his devotees with varas (boons).
  • Varaprada– The one who grants wishes.
  • Varadvinayaka– The one who bestows everyone with success.
  • Veeraganpati– The heroic Lord.
  • Vidyavaridhi– The God of wisdom.
  • Vighnahara– The one who removes all obstacles.
  • Vighnaharta– The demolisher of all obstacles.
  • Vighnaraja– The Lord of Hindrances.
  • Vighnarajendra– The one who rules obstacles.
  • Vighnavinashanya– The one who destroys all impediments.
  • Vighneshwara– The Lord of all obstacles.
  • Vikat– The one who is huge and gigantic.
  • Vinayaka– The masses’ Lord.
  • Vishwamukha– The one who is considered as the master of the universe.
  • Vishwaraja– The King of the world.
  • Yangnakaya– The one who accepts all sacred and sacrificial offerings.
  • Yashaskaram– The one who bestows fame and fortune.
  • Yashasvin– The beloved and ever popular Lord.

             Shree Ganeshay Namah!

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