Ganesh Chaturthi - Friday 29th August
Ganesh is Shiva's younger son. He is the giver of the wealth and comfort. Ganesh literally means the leader of the many. He is a very learned demigod. When sage Vyas wanted to write the epic of Mahabharat, he requested Ganesh to be his scribe. At the beginning of every Hindu ritual, Ganesh is worshipped first. Any auspicious occasion is incomplete without worshipping Ganesh. Ganesh is installed outside many Hindu temples even today. Many splendid temples are dedicated to Ganesh.
According to the most popular legend (and Shiva Purana), Parvati created Ganesh out of sandalwood paste that she used for her bath and breathed life into the figure. She then set him to stand guard at her door while she bathed. Lord Shiva, who had gone out, returned and as Ganesh didn't know him, didn't allow him to enter. Lord Shiva became enraged by this and asked his army to teach the child some manners. Ganesh who was very powerful, being born of Parvati, the embodiment of Shakti, defeated Shiva's army and declared that nobody was allowed to enter while his mother was bathing. Angry Shiva severed the head of the child. Parvati seeing this became enraged. Seeing Parvati in anger Shiva promised that her son will be alive again. He asked the Devtas to go north and bring the first head they find. They found a dead elephant. They brought the head of the elephant and Shiva fixed it on the child's body and brought him back to life. Lord Shiva anointed him as the commander of his army.
The Amarakosha, an early Sanskrit lexicon, lists eight names of Ganesh : Vinayak, Vighnaharta, Dvaimatura (one who has two mothers), Ganapati, Ekadanta (one who has one tusk), Heramba, Lambodara (one who has a pot belly) and Gajanana (having the head of an elephant). Buddhi (intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power), and Riddhi (prosperity) are considered his wives and Kshema (prosperity) and Labha (profit) are his two sons. In many scriptures mentions his sons as Subha (auspiciousness) and Labha.
There is a legend behind why Ganesh is worshipped first. In ancient times, there was always squabble among Devtas to decide whose Puja should be performed first. All Devtas went to Lord Narayan to seek his guidance. Shree Narayan said that whoever orbits the entire universe first would be worshipped first. Every Devta, on their mode of transport joined this race against the time. Ganesh's transport is mouse. He had no chance of ever coming first. But he was the cleverest among Devtas. He went straight to Kailash. He made his parents stand together and ran around them. Instead of orbiting the universe he finished the orbit of his parents. He returned back to Narayan before anybody else. As each Devta returned after the lengthy journey, they found Ganesh already back before them. But nobody had seen him overtake any of Devtas. Shree Narayan was asked to adjudge again. Ganesh explained what he has done. Shree Narayan agreed that to circumnavigate (Pradakshina) the parents is equivalent to orbiting the whole universe. Since then Ganesh is worshipped first, even before God Himself.
Ganesh is depicted with large head and ears to symbolise the wisdom and ability to listen to different viewpoints, his large stomach symbolises the ability to digest different experiences, his tusk symbolises the supreme intellect. He is always in serene mood to symbolise the inner peace and spirituality. His transport, rat, symbolises the leader's ability to gain access in every nook and corner and assess the true picture. Food and wealth is shown at his feet to denote the prosperity he has but he is not ruled and influenced by them.