Many people are unaware that although a renowned Hindu deity, Ganesh is also worshiped by Buddhists.
It is said that during the 10th century, merchants traveling from Asia began to worship Lord Ganesh. As their devotion and teachings spread among the trading community, many other traders began to worship Ganesh as well. His role as Remover of Obstacles was very much important to their journeys in trade as the hoped for safe voyages and safety from harm while at sea. Lord Ganesh therefore became the primary deity associated with traders. They would invoke his image before any other god whenever hardship would arise.
When Hindus began to spread across to the Malay Archipelago in Southeast Asia they took with them not only their culture but their particular fondness for Ganesh. Statues were erected throughout the region in his honor. Hindus migration further into Southeast Asia such as in Indochina, brought the practice of worship of Hindu deity’s right alongside Buddhists. It is here that Buddhists alike began to adopt their fondness for Ganesh as Remover of Obstacles. Even today in Buddhist Thailand Ganesh is worshiped as God of Success. Within Mahayana Buddhism Ganesh is appears in the form of the Buddhist god Vinayaka. His image often appears in Buddhist scriptures shown dancing.
We at Lotus Sculpture hope you all had a wonderful Hindu Festival of Lights! Many non-Hindus around the world have come to know of the religious holiday, but fail to truly understand what it entails or symbolizes for the greater Hindu community. Diwali is not just a religious holiday, but a spiritual and social holiday as well. According to the Hindu calendar, Diwali marks the beginning of a new year. It is a time to be re-acquainted with one’s inner spirituality and set goals and ambitions for the year ahead. The festival itself honors the Hindu Gods in many ways with both rituals and prayers.
The most revered of the deities during are Hindu Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, and God Ganesh, Remover of Obstacles. It is not hard to see why these are the most important Hindu deities during the festival, as believers wish for prosperity in their lives both financially and spiritually in the coming year as well as help from Lord Ganesh in guiding their path to defeat those obstacles that may have hindered them in the previous year.
It is also a time to honor the return of Lord Ram. The legend behind the return of Lord Ram from Sri Lanka is one of the most beloved within Hindu mythology. Legend has it that the evil King of Sri Lanka, Ravana, kidnapped Lord Ram’s wife, Sita. Ram and his followers proceeded to spend years building a bridge between Sri Lanka and India in order to defeat Ravana and save his beloved wife. Once the bridge lay complete, Lord Ram was successful in his plans of defeat and rescue. When Ram returned to India, people welcomed them back by lighting small clay pots and decorating their homes in homage. These lamps are said to symbolize the triumph of good over evil, just as Lord Ram did over Ravana. The themes behind this story now define the celebration behind the Diwali Festival to date.
Today, the festival is marked by vast displays of fireworks, devote worship, social gatherings, prayer, and cleaning up one’s life both physically and spiritually. It is a time of joyous celebration of life itself. The holiday itself should not be considered only an exclusive holiday for Hindus, as they invite people of all faiths to embrace the meaning behind the festival, shedding stresses, worries, and make goals for the coming year. If you were not able to participate this last week, join Hindus around the world in celebrating the Festival of Lights next year!
Hindu God Ganesh has ascribed to many roles over time. His most marked role is that of Vighneshvara, or Lord of Obstacles, within the Hindu Religion. This applies to both material and spiritual aims. Besides the primary remover of obstacles he is also thought to place obstacles in the way of those in need of guidance. If one is expressing themselves in less then ideal ways, Ganesh may bring those to light by bringing about hindrances that may enlighten them.
Another such role is that of Lord of letters and learning. Ganesh is renowned for his divine intellect and wisdom. He is thought to be a teacher of the divine with his inherent cleverness and vast intelligence. He is worshiped often by devout Hindus whenever they are embarking on a new endeavor, such as buying a house or starting a new business opportunity. They pray for his guidance in that their new beginning may be successful.
It would not be a stretch to say that virtually every Hindu home has some sort of statue or montage to Lord Ganesh. He is worshiped by everyone, whether rich or poor, all over India. They collectively believe that he is a granter of success, prosperity, and protects against hardships that may arise. Most beseech upon him at the beginning of every prayer, important events, or religious ritual. It is even said that musicians, dancers, and artists call upon him at the beginning of every performance, undertaking, or event. One of the most influential invocations is the following mantra:
‘Om Shri Gaṇeshāya Namah’ translated as ‘Om, salutation to the Illustrious Ganesha’
Most Hindu households give offerings of sweets to their beloved Ganesh which is why he is often depicted holding a basket of delicacies. Although the birth of Ganesh is the most often celebrated holiday worshiping Ganesh, he is often revered during Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. This is mostly due to his everyday influence in the lives of Hindus nationwide. Diwali is a celebration of the plentiful qualities of life, of which Ganesh is often a largely believed guidance through them all.
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