Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha

                This Thursday September 13th people all over the world celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi, Lord Ganesha’s birthday! Ganesha is the elephant-headed Hindu deity, son of Lord Shiva and Parvatti. On Ganesha Chaturthi devotees bless statues of Ganesha and place them on raised platforms for ten days. On the eleventh day the statues are immersed in rivers to symbolize Ganesha’s return to his cosmic parents.

The birth of Ganesha.

The story of Ganesha’s early years is beloved not only by Hindus and yoga practitioners, but lovers of mythology throughout the world! According to the legend, Shiva and Parvatti lived happily lived together on Mount Kailash. Shiva was called away to go on a very long journey. While he was gone, Parvatti became very lonely. She longed for a child to ease the distress of being separated from her lover! She created a child from her own body. That child was Ganesha.

Over the years Ganesha grew to be a strong, handsome man. He loved and cared for his mother. They were very devoted to each other. One day while Parvatti was enjoying a long, luxurious bath, Shiva came home. As you can imagine, Shiva was quite surprised to see this handsome young man in his home while his wife was in the bath! He took his sword and, in his anger, cut off the “intruder’s” head!

Parvatti was devasted when she saw what Shiva had done. She explained to her husband that he had just beheaded his own son! Shiva was aggrieved as well and swore to make things right. He cut off the head of an elephant and placed it on his son’s shoulders, bringing the young man back to life.

The Remover of Obstacles.

Ganesha is called “the remover of obstacles”. He is the deity associated with wisdom and intelligence. He is also the Lord of new beginnings. Ganesha’s symbolism reflects these qualities. His big potbelly represents generosity and abundance; his open hand denotes his open heart as he welcomes devotees; his single tusk reflects his single-minded focus.

Ganesha’s commitment to removing obstacles is even reflected by his vahana– or mount. This large, elephant-headed god rides on a tiny mouse! When Ganesha is too large to slip into the tight spaces we sometimes trap ourselves in, he sends in his mount! Of course, his mount, the mouse, is just an extension of himself. According to Ganesha, no obstacle is too big or small to be removed!

We think that we have many obstacles. Ganesha teaches us that this is not so. We only have one and that is our identification with our false self. Through practices such as yoga we discover the truth of who we are. When we realize our True Self, the obstacles, which were never really Real to begin with, simply disappear.

Honoring Ganesha’s birthday.

How will you honor the energy of this jovial, benevolent, elephant-headed deity today? This might be an auspicious time to enjoy a creative endeavor, such as art or writing. Perhaps enjoy reading from the sacred books of the world’s wisdom traditions. Or perhaps honor Ganesha’s commitment to his family by choosing to forgive a loved one for their mistakes. If you find yourself currently facing an obstacle, write a letter to Lord Ganesha about this obstacle. Then burn the letter and release the outcome of this obstacle to the highest good for all involved.

The mantra “Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha” is a mantra for removing obstacles. This is the perfect mantra to chant on Lord Ganesha’s birthday, or any day you are facing a challenge that you’re not sure how you are going to overcome.