Prasanna vadanam dhyayet
Sarva vighno (u) pa shantaye.
Lord Vinayaka (Ganesha) is one of the five prime hindu deities. He is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and the brother of Lord Kartikeya (Skanda / Subramaniya / Muruga). He was born of Parvati's body elements. The idols and temples of Lord Vinayaka are found all over the world. In the South Indian villages there are many temples exclusively for the worship of Vinayaka but there is no village where he does not exist. He is considered as the first God to be worshiped.
The worship of Vinayaka is not only popular among the Hindus, but also among Jains and Buddhists. Ganapati worship is popular in far eastern countries like Indochina, Cambodia, Japan and other adjacent countries. Ganapathi Homam / Pooja is a precondition for the performance of any religious function.
Vinayaka Chaturthi is a great festival celebrated by Hindus around the world as the birthday of Lord Vinayaka, which typically falls in late August or early September.
Lord Ganesha is represented with human body having elephant head. He has several names. He is also known as MahaGanapati, Ganesha, GajaAnana, EkaTanta, ChaturBhuja (four hands) etc. He is the God of plenty, wisdom / learning, good fortune, peace and spiritual success. Pleased by our prayers, He removes all obstacles in the path of any work we undertake. So He is called Vigneshwara. He stands for OM, for His figure with an elephant's trunk resembles the form of OM. Hence He is also called Pranava Swaroopi.
Everyone is familiar with the story how He got the elephant head. But it has a great symbolic explanation. A common word for elephant in Sanskrit is 'gaja'. Ga means the 'gati' or the final goal towards which the entire creation is moving. Ja stands for 'janma', birth or origin. Hence 'gaja' signifies God from whom the worlds have come out and towards whom they are progressing to merge in Him at the end. His large ears indicate continuous and intelligent listening to the teacher. We know how sage Vyaasa dictated the great epic Mahabharata to Vinayaka and he wrote down continuously without leaving a word and at the same undastanding the meaning fully. It shows how sharp His hearing was and how deep His concentration.
Lord Ganesha has a long trunk. The trunk of an elephant can pick up a pin and at the same time, it can uproot a big tree. It means that He can handle any work big or small. If a poor and humble man prays, Ganesha fulfills his wants and if a demon challenges He destroys him. He is most compassionate but most powerful. His vehicle is a small mouse. The mouse also represents desires. Desires are man's enemies. If man runs after desires he perishes. Ganesha sits on the mouse and controls it. It indicates that man should control desires fully.
He has a large belly. It indicates that all created worlds are contained in Him. It also shows His ability to stomach and digest all types of experiences, good and bad.
Lord Ganesha has four arms. He has a noose or rope in one hand. It signifies wordly attachments which make us suffer endlessly. Worldly attachments are a bondage like a rope.
The second hand holds Ankusha or goad. It represents anger. Just as the noose binds us, anger hurts us like a goad.
The third hand holds modaka - a sweet prepration. If we please Lord Ganesha by our good character and worship, He bestows happiness on us.
The fourth hand is in the blessing pose. He blesses the whole humanity. After all we are His children and He wants us all to be always happy and cheerful.
Gajavaktram Surashreshtham Karna Chaamara Bhooshitam Paashaankushadharam Devam Vandeham Gananaayakam.
Ekadantam Mahaakaayam Taptakaanchana Sannibham Lambodaram Vishaalaaksham Vandeham Gananaayakam.