All rituals (samskaras), begin with the worship
of Ganesha. His image invokes the universe, his head signifies wisdom and his body is
globular, Vishwaroopa. Ganesha represents the majesty of the animal kingdom with his head
and his vehicle the mouse shows subjugation of pestilent rats. .
His trunk is twisted into an embodiment of Om, the syllable
that created the world. To combat evil, he carries weapons the discus, trident, sword and
shield. A broken tusk is a reminder of his battle with a demon, and the fight with the
forces of evil. Yet, the same tusk is used by him in the writing of the epic, the
Mahabharata. When Vyasa wanted to compose the Mahabharata, Brahama suggested Ganesha be
his scribe. Vyasa agreed and Ganesha brought his broken tusk to writing quill. Vyasa
dictated the entire epic in verse. Ganesha recorded every word for Gods and men alike.
He carries a modak (sweet dumpling) in one hand, for his
appetite is insatiable, and conscious of his role the other hand shows in the abhaya
mudra(do not fear, I am here to protect). Ganesha straddles the divide between the
believers of Shiva and Vishnu. Ganesh idols are worshipped both by Shaivites and
Vaishnavites. Ganesha temples are seen in almost every village in India. Chubby and gleeful and elephant headed, Ganesha
easily finds his place in the hearts of Gods and people.