Ganesh Chaturthi is fondly celebrated with much fervour across the country, especially in Maharashtra. Giant Ganesha idols are prepared much in advance and beautiful pandals are decorated to celebrate the festival that goes on for 10 days. Hindu mythology refers to Ganesha as the lord of wisdom and beginnings.
So, while everyone is praying to the dear Vinayaka to take away all their hurdles, here's looking at some short and interesting stories about his life:
1. Parvati moulded Ganesha from the turmeric paste she used to clean her body with
Among so many other stories about Lord Ganesha's birth, this one is the most popular. According to this, one day when Parvati went to take a bath, she asked Nandi to guard the door and not let anyone inside. But being Lord Shiva's faithful, when Shiva came, he didn't stop him from entering. Seeing that she didn't have anyone as faithful to her as Nandi was to Shiva, she collected the turmeric paste she used to clean her body with, and moulded it into Ganesha!
2. Why he is called the god of wit and wisdom
Once, Shiva and Parvati were having 'the fruit of knowledge', which both Kartikeya and Ganesha wanted to have. So, Lord Shiva threw a challenge to both his sons asking them to take three rounds of the world and come back. The one who would return first would get the fruit. Kartikeya flew away on his peacock but Ganesha only had the little mice as his vehicle. So he circled around his parents and told them that his whole world lies in their feet. Shiva and Parvati were impressed with their son's answer and Ganesha ended up getting the fruit!
3. The story of how he came to be called Ekdant
Once, he was guarding the door for Lord Shiva when sage Parashuram came to meet him. When Ganesha denied him entry, Parashuram got angry. Known for his anger, Parshuram drew swords and began fighting with Ganesha. Ganesha lost one of his tusks in the fight and came to be called as Ekdant (one-toothed).
4. It was Ganesha who actually scribbled Mahabharata for Ved Vyas
Legend has it that sage Vyasa came to Lord Ganesha to ask for help. He wanted Ganesha to transcribe the entire epic for him, upon which Ganesha agreed but on one condition. He told Vyasa to keep reciting the verses without any pause. Now Vyasa knew Ganesha's speed, so to avail himself a break, he told Ganesha that he will have to understand every verse before he writes it down. This way, whenever Vyasa needed a break, he would throw in a rather difficult verse.
5. He broke his own tusk to finish writing the Mahabharata
This is another story about why he is called Ekdant. Such was Lord Ganesha's dedication towards his work that, while transcribing the Mahabharata, he broke his pen. Without thinking twice, he broke off one of his tusks into half and began writing again.
6. When the moon had to face Ganesha's wrath
Ganesha had stuffed himself at Kuber's house and it was difficult for him to even move. His pot-belly made it difficult for him to even walk, so he stumbled and fell on the ground. Legend has it that the moon was watching all of this and he started laughing and made fun of him. This angered Ganesha, who threw a curse at the moon, saying that it would turn black and remain invisible. Upon realising its mistake, the moon pleaded for forgiveness after which, Ganesha said that the moon will wax and wane every fifteen days.
7. When Ganesha was so hungry that he threatened to eat his host, Kuber
Kuber, the god of wealth, was a haughty man. One day, he went to Kailash to invite Lord Shiva and Parvati to come to his place and have dinner, while in actuality he just wanted to show off his riches to them. However, Lord Shiva had other engagements, so he asked Kuber to take Ganesha with him as he was fond of eating. But he asked hesitatingly if Kuber would be able to feed him properly. Kuber, thinking how much could a kid actually eat, agreed to take Ganesha with him.
Now was Kuber's real test. Ganesha finished every food item in the house and asked for more! When Kuber requested that he wasn't left with any more food, Ganesha threatened to eat his host! Panicked, Kuber rushed to Kailash begging Shiva and Parvati to tell him a way to satiate Ganesha's hunger. Parvati smiled and gave Ganesha a tulsi-leave that calmed him down and Kuber had, well, learnt his lesson!
8. How he came to be known as the god of beginnings
Once, Ganesha was guarding the swargalok while everyone had left to attend Lord Vishnu's wedding. When Narad Muni saw Ganesha alone, he told him that he was not invited because he was fat and ate too much. This made Ganesha angry, who sent his mouse and asked them to dig the soil from inside and make it hollow on the way from where the marriage procession was going to pass. The army of mice dug the soil and the wheels of the chariots got stuck.
None of the gods were able to pull out the wheel so they asked for help from a man passing by. He came and took Lord Ganesha's name and there came the wheels out! When the gods asked why he prayed to Lord Ganesha, the farmer told them that he's the god of beginnings who removes all the hurdles. On hearing this, the gods went back to Lord Ganesha and apologised for their behaviour.
9. How a mouse became Ganesha's vehicle
Gajmukhasur was a demon who was a devotee of Lord Shiva. He prayed and asked Shiva for a boon that no god or human would be able to harm him. Being benevolent, Shiva granted it to him but warned him against its misuse. But Gajmukhasar, being a demon, began killing people and destroying their homes. Seeing this, Shiva sent Ganesha to control him, who then turned Gajmukhasur into a mouse. And that's how the mouse became Ganesha's vehicle.
10. The story of Ganesha and river Kaveri
According to this story, Lord Ganesha was behind the origin of river Kaveri. Long ago, sage Agastya wanted to create a river to provide water to the land in the south. He took the blessings of Lord Shiva and Brahma and set off with his kamandala filled with sacred water. When he reached Coorg mountains, he wanted to answer nature's call, but couldn't keep his kamandala down.
There, he saw a young boy and asked him to hold the kamandala until he came back. The boy was Lord Ganesha, who kept the kamandala on the ground as he knew it was a perfect place for the river to originate. Just then a crow came and sat on the top of it. When the sage returned, he shooed the bird away which led to the kamadala falling upside down and the water started flowing from that spot, which was later called river Kaveri.