Ganesha, the best known and loved deities in the Hindu pantheon of gods, and indeed is the most recognized outside of India.
As covid puts a stop to many of the large scale pandals and frenzy of the celebrations in Mumbai , let’s look at a few Ganesh Chaturthi tales that can light up your day. Sharing some book recos in the photos…
Do they bring up questions on how to explain some of these…a father killing a son, an elephant head to replace a human head , Ganesha cursing the moon etc?
Well here are some suggestions
I. The Birth of Ganesha
As a kid, I never questioned the inherent violence in Lord Shiva and a whole lot of ganas and Gods, ganging up and killing a young boy . Yet my kid was the first to ask “If he is a god why does he not know Ganesha is his own son?”
To a child – What happens when you’re angry? Do you feel like yourself ? Would you say/do the same thing if you were calm? What could he have done? How can you find a win-win solution?
To the adult – The symbology of Ganesha is one of the ideal realised man – that when man gets enlightened and gains profound knowledge and wisdom , his old views and small head get shattered and destroyed and he is bestowed with Supreme wisdom . The replacement thus is symbolic and hence, the largest brain known to man, the elephant head. And the father killing the son- well, It is the other way around , it is the child, us full of ego who cannot recognise Him and ask Who you are and Why do you want to enter. 🙂
- Ganesha and the Phases of the Moon
As Lord Ganesha returned from a sumptuous feast from his devotees , sitting on his mouse falls off and the Moon – Chandra Deva sees him and makes fun of him. Ganesha curses him but then relents and gives him the waxing and waning cycles.
To the child – From a scientific perspective, how the early man may have come up with stories to explain scientific phenomenon around him and tied it to higher powers.
It can just as easily be a lesson in body shaming , not jeering / laughing at someone and behaving with respect and empathy.
To the adult – The Mooshik or the rat denotes that the desires in the man of perfect that he tries to keep perfect control on . A rat when given freedom, slowly consumes even a barnful of grain. As you control your desires,you will falter, others may even jeer and laugh at your efforts as they seem counterintuitive to the world’s understanding. 🙂
There is also the famous tale of Ganesha and Kubera and greed and pride. (Karadi Tales had the most delightful story with a very catchy song “500 cooks…” An absolute delight) and the story of how Ganesha and Karthikeya contested for a divine fruit , a good tale for sibling rivalry and for putting what you learn into practice
The Elephant Connection
Do we have an elephant headed God because of our awe and love for this humongous yet gentle giant animal?
Right from Elmer and Babar to dear Horton hatching an egg or saving the Whos or our very own, much loved Gajapati Kulapati, there are plenty of fun filled stories with elephants.
Read books that go beyond and build love and respect for the animal’s feelings
….Unni’s Story by vinitha Ramchandani Just recently I was fortunate to get a read of this beautiful tale of a friendship and learning between a little girl and an elephant she rescues , thrice, as they both realise that sometimes humans don’t really see beyond what they could use the animal for and being a friend may mean letting go. (Grade 2+)
….Chained by Lynne Kelly – A ten-year-old Hastin takes a job as an elephant keeper and work off the debt. Hastin sees Nandita, a sweet elephant and his best friend, who is chained and hurt until she learns tricks perfectly. Hastin protects Nandita as best as he can, knowing that the only way they will both survive is if he can find a way for them to escape. An emotional read. (Grade 4+)
…Think about the Ice Age movie and Ellie, the female woolly mammoth , who is raised by a possum, alongside her own children, Crash and Eddie. While the idea of an elephant hanging upside down from a tree branch with its tail may seem utterly preposterous , sometimes we just need to say “Why not?” Think of other things you would think an elephant can’t do.
…Or adorable Dumbo whose big ears helped him fly!
Do share other reads that you may have enjoyed with elephants.