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Ganesha and his wivesThe marital status of Ganesha has been under discussion for long. He is known as the leader of the Brahman, after his father Lord Shiva instated the title on him. In some paintings and idols Lord Ganesha is depicted with his wives or consorts. Some devotees of Lord Ganesha believe that the female companions depicted in the paintings and statues are not his consorts but his servants or dasi. Another theory is that the qualities of Ganesha (intellect, wisdom and prosperity) are often personified as women who are shown with him. These differences in theories can be explained on the basis of regional diversity. The belief of Ganesha being unmarried is popular in the southern region of India while the concept of his wives holds ground in the northern region.

The scriptures dedicated to Lord Ganesha (the Mudgala Purana and the Ganesha Purana) contain descriptions of Lord Ganesha with his wives. The story cites that Lord Ganesha expressed the desire to get married. His parents, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, searched the universe for a bride for Lord Ganesha. No woman agreed to marry Lord Ganesha because of the head of an elephant. This made Lord Ganesha very upset. Finally Lord Shiva and Parvati went to Lord Brahma for a solution. Lord Brahma along with Lord Ganesha performed a ‘yagya’. At the end of the ‘yagya’, Brahma created Siddhi and Riddhi and called them his daughters. Lord Brahma asked Lord Ganesha to marry them.

The Shiva Purana also mentions Riddhi and Siddhi as Lord Ganesha’s wives. The story of the marriage is different from the story given in the former scripture. According to the Shiva Purana, Skanda (brother of Ganesha) and Ganesha desired to marry the beautiful daughters of king Prajapati. They were asked to compete in a race if they wished to marry Riddhi and Siddhi. The race was to encircle the world thrice and the one to do it in the least time would win. Skanda hopped on his vehicle, the peacock, and set out while Lord Ganesha stood up and went aounr his parents three times. On being asked why he had done so, Lord Ganesha answered that his world constituted of his parents. Impressed with the wisdom and the clever approach to win the race, Prajapati gave the hand of Riddhi and Siddhi to Ganesha. The Shiva Purana further mentions the birth of Kshema and Labha, sons of Ganesha.

Riddhi is interchangeably called Buddhi, though some texts mention Buddhi separately. Scholars believe that these female characters are nothing but shaktis of Lord Ganesha. In Hinduism every divine being consists of male and female avatars. While Vinayaki is the female avatar of Lord Ganesha, it is believed that Riddhi and Siddhi are also the same.

Siddhi means spiritual power and Riddhi denotes prosperity. On the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi or any occasion involving praying of Lord Ganesha, it is important to invoke Riddhi and Siddhi as well. Although prosperity and spiritual power are qualities of Lord Ganesha, it is only after invoking the names of his wives that these qualities come to the devotees.

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