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LEXICON

 

 

Ganesha (श्रीगणेश)

Sanskrit. ‘Lord of hordes’, a compound name made up of and the word gana, meaning ‘horde’ and isha meaning ‘lord’ or ‘ruler’. He is believed to have power over obstacles, and is the son of Parvati, the consort of Shiva. He was created by Parvati from the flakes of her skin mixed with oil, and brought to life with water from the Ganges.  He is represented with a human body and the head of an elephant, with one tusk broken off (Ekatanta - fig.). His vahana is the rat and if depicted riding his mount, or seated in a chariot pulled by rats (fig.), he may also be referred to as Akhuratha, which literally means ‘mouse-chariot’ or ‘rat-chariot’, yet is usually translated as ‘one who has a mouse (or rat) as his charioteer’ (fig.). According to legend he was decapitated during one of Shiva's tantrums, who promised a new head from the first creature that he would encounter - it turned out to be a baby elephant. His broken tusk is a souvenir from the event when the rat, tired of carrying him, threw him off. The moon who witnessed this laughed mockingly and Ganesha in anger broke off his tusk and threw it at the moon. He is the protector of art (fig.), remover of obstacles, and the god of knowledge and intelligence, and of transition and new beginning. In his terrible form he represents the underworld. In Thailand, Ganesha is known by a variety of names, including Phra Phikhanesawora (fig.), Phra Phi Kaneht (fig.), Phra Phinai, Winayok, Phra Wikhanesuan, and Phra Kaneht, and he is worshipped as the deity who improves fortune in trade. He is honoured with Motaka (fig.), sweets and fruit, when business is good, and he is made ridiculous by putting his picture or statue upside down (on its head), when business is bad or faltering. In Thai khon performances, he is represented with a khon mask in the form of an elephant's head, either with two tusks or with one tusk broken off, and usually with a red complexion (fig.). Akin to Shiva's Nataraja or cosmic dance (fig.), Ganesha may also be represented with multiple arms and attributes, while performing a dance (fig.). In India, his statue is placed over the doorways of homes for protection, often together with mirrors, that ward off evil spirits. As such, he is usually the first deity that one encounters in Indian homes (fig.). In Thai also referred to as Thep Haeng Kwahm Samret, i.e. ‘Deity of Accomplishment’. Thevasataan Uthayaan Phra Phi Kaneht (fig.) is the Thai name of a Ganesha Idol Park in Chachengsao (map - fig.), featuring a 39 meter tall bronze statue of Ganesha, as well as of a Ganesha Idol Park in Nakhon Sawan (map - fig.), featuring a large Ganesha statue in a seated pose and with a pink complexion. Recently, Wat Rong Khun, i.e. the so-called White Temple (fig.) in Chiang Rai, also added its own large Ganesha shrine (fig.) that houses a large bronze image of cast after a sculpture by the artist Chalermchai (fig.). Also known as Kodchamukhasoon, Gajagaranaka, Gajamuk or Gajamukha, Krimuk, Gajamukhasoon or Gajamukhasun, Gajanan, Gajanna, etc. See also gajanasa, lampothon, Nilek, and Samonthat (fig.).