The most noteworthy mantra to revere the beloved Ganpati is ‘Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha’ which literally means, “Salutations to the remover of obstacles."
Ganesha is said to govern the root chakra and this mantra contributes towards realigning it. Whenever we find ourselves in a difficult situation or “stuck,” so to say, this mantra acts as a call for help in the form of strength and courage to march forth fearlessly so as to overcome the toils and meet what belongs.
Ganesha’s existence and worship comes with very interesting mythological stories.
It's said that Ganesha's mother Goddess Parvati created an idol of a boy by carving him out of turmeric powder, and then went on to breathe life into him; all outside of the knowledge of her husband, Lord Shiva.
Later, upon his return from a long absence, when Lord Shiva was denied entry into his own abode by a stranger, Ganesha – for the simple reason that Goddess Parvati was bathing inside – Shiva decapitated Ganesha's head in anger. Legend states that when Lord Brahma went out looking for a replacement head for the child, an elephant was the first animal he crossed paths with, and so his head was brought to save the day.
Another remarkable instance goes as follows: The Mahabharatta was recited to Ganesha by the sage Vyasa (Veda Vyasa) and simultaneously written by Ganesha too. It is believed that this was done based on a clear condition; that the sage Vyasa would not stop his recitation of the epic and that Ganesha would not stop writing. Aside from this was the condition that Ganesha would not simply write it, but also wholly comprehend every verse of the holy text. It is further proclaimed that it took the pair of them an entirety of three years of continuous speaking and writing to finnish the epic.
Another time, Ganesha and his brother Karthikeya decided to have a race that would determine who was to be the carer of Earthlings. They were to go around the Universe once and the first one back would win. Karthikaye had a speedy peacock for a mount while Ganesha’s mount was his mouse. While Kartikeya zipped as soon as the race began, Ganesha moved in a slow circle around his parents. Once finished, he was convinced he’d ended the race. When the Gods didn’t seem to register what had happened, Ganesha explained that the love and respect he had for his parents was so immense, they made for his entire Universe. The Gods acknowledged Ganesha’s wisdom, applauded his loyalty, and declared him as the one to look after the people of Earth.
Ganesha is the Hindu God of success and prosperity. A Ganesha idol is believed to attract wealth, happiness and prosperity and placing this idol in the Northeast corner of your house is said to bring prosperity and auspiciousness.
Ganesh Chaturthi is the 10-day Hindu festival marking the birth of the Ganesha. It begins on the fourth day (chaturthi) of the month of Bhadrapada (August–September) – which is the sixth month of the Hindu calendar.
To start the festival, Ganesha idols are placed on raised platforms in homes or in outdoor tents amidst heavy decorations. The worship begins with the ‘pranapratishtha’, the ritual of invoking life in the idols, followed by ‘shhodashopachara’ – the 16 ways of paying tribute.
With the chanting of Vedic hymns like the Ganesh Upanishad, the idols are blessed with the likes of red sandalwood paste & yellow and red flowers. Ganpati is also offered coconut, jaggery and 21 modaks (laddoos), known to be his favourite food.
As part of the summation of Chaturthi, the idols are carried to local rivers in massive processions, accompanied by music, dance and devotional singing. They are then immersed into the water body, a ritual symbolizing Ganesha’s homeward journey to Mount Kailas— to his parents Shiva & Parvati’s abode.
The Maratha ruler Shivaji (1630-80) would encourage nationalist sentiment among his subjects while fighting the Mughals; leading to Ganesh Chaturthi becoming a gala public event over the years. The festival is celebrated today in Hindu communities all over the world, remaining most popular in Maharashtra and parts of western India.