Since I really didn’t know the story, I have found a nice webpage explaining the whole thing and have reproduced it here.
Ganesh is the god of wisdom and prosperity and is invoked before the beginning of any auspicious work by the Hindus. He is the son of Shiva and Parvati, brother of Kartikeya and the general of the gods.
The story of creation of Ganesh is a very fascinating one.
A long long time ago when Lord Shiva, was away fighting for the gods, the lady of the house, goddess Parvathi was alone at home. On one occasion, she needed someone to guard the house when she was going for a bath. Unable to think of an alternative, she used her powers to create a son, Ganesh. She instructed Ganesh to keep strict vigil on the entrance to the house and not to allow anyone into the house. Ganesh agreed and stayed on the strictest of strict vigils.
In the meantime Lord Shiva returned happy after a glorious victory for the gods, only to be stopped at the entrance by Ganesh. Ganesh, acting on Parvathi’s orders verbatim, did not allow Shiva to enter the house. Lord Shiva was enraged beyond control and in a fit of rage slashed the head of Ganesh. In the meantime Parvathi came out from her bath and was aghast at the scene. She was very very angry at her lordship for what had happened and explained him the situation.
Lord Shiva wanted to make it up to Parvathi very badly and agreed to put life back into Ganesh by putting the head of the first sleeping living creature that came in sight which was sleeping with its head to the north. He sent his soldiers to go in search of the creature. The first creature which came in sight was an elephant. So Lord Shiva re-created his son with the head of the elephant. Hence the trunk of Lord Ganesh.
Parvathi was still not totally happy with the deal and wanted more. Then Shiva granted Ganesh a boon that before beginning of any undertaking or task people would worship Lord Ganesh. Thus the reason for worship of Ganesh before start of any work.
Ganesh is the generous god of wisdom and Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated to worship Lord Ganesh. It’s one of the most colorful public festivals all over Bharat. In Mumbai city alone, more than 6000 Ganesh statues are commissioned collectively by factories. Up to 10 metres in height, these statues are carried on decorated floats. Little Ganesh idols are placed in nukkads or street corners and in homes, and poojas are performed daily.
Started by Shivaji, the great Maratha ruler, to promote culture and nationalism, the festival was revived by Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak to spread the message of freedom struggle and to defy the British who had banned public assemblies. The festival gave the Indians a feeling of unity and revived their patriotic spirit and faith. This public festival formed the background for political leaders who delivered speeches to inspire people against the Western rule. The festival is so popular that in Mumbai the preparations begin months in advance. Images of Ganesh are installed and elaborate arrangements are made for lighting and decoration, and celebrations are on for 7-10 days. The Chaturthi is the last day dedicated to the elephant-headed god, and thousands of processions converge on the beaches of Mumbai to immerse the holy idols in the sea. This immersion is accompanied by drum- beats, devotional songs and dancing.
It is also forbidden to look at the moon on that day as the moon had laughed at Ganesh when he fell from his vehicle, the rat.
Addie made this card at school. She was going to give it to Sudakker, but she chickened out. I didn’t realize that we were Hindu, but I suppose, when in Rome…(or in this case, Hyderabad!)