The story of the birth of Ganesha is a fascinating one. It explains a lot of things about the Lord of the people. For example, Ganesha, elephant head that makes Westerners so curious is also a product of his celestial birth. Popularly known as the Elephant God, Ganesha is the son of Parvati and Shiva. The story begins with a thread of suspense because Ganesha was not conceived by Parvati and Shiva but created by Parvati herself.
There are two popular stories about the birth of Ganesha, the
Ganesha, His Mother's Doorkeeper:
The most popular mythical story is that Ganesha was a beautiful boy created by Parvati using the dirt of her body. As Ganesha was created by the components of Parvati's body, she adopted him as her son. After her marriage to Lord Shiva, Parvati was lonely in Kailash (Shiva's abode). Playing with Ganesha filled her time.
On one fateful day, Parvati asked Ganesha to guard the door and went to have a bath. When Shiva arrived with his gang of ghosts, little Ganesha refused to let him in. Shiva who was not acquainted with his son, was angered by this hindrance and ordered his followers to attack the boy. In the fight that ensued, Ganesha's head was chopped off defending his Mother's command.
Parvati was inconsolable with grief on learning about the accident. To please his wife Shiva promised to restore the boy to life and ordered his followers to find a mother who sleeps with her to the newborn baby. The head of such a baby would be attached to Ganesha's body. As fate would have it, the first head found for the elephant God was that of a white tusked elephant. Hence the re-birth of Ganesha happened with the head of an elephant and Shiva declared that Ganesha will be worshipped before any other God (in other words, no religious ritual will be complete without praying Ganesha). From that day, Ganesha became Lord Ganapati or the lord of the people.
The Curse Of Shani (Saturn):
This story too begins with Parvati feeling lonely at her marital home of Kailash. She prays to Vishnu and acquires a son who is named Ganesha. To celebrate the birth of Ganesha, Paravati invites all the Gods to bless the baby boy. They all arrived except Lord Shani, the master of the planet Saturn who was also Parvati's brother.
The reason behind this was the curse given to Shani by his wife that whatever he looks upon shall turn to ashes. But Parvati was adamant that her brother should at least glance upon his newborn nephew. Honouring her request Shani glanced at little Ganesha and his head flew off. To control the damage Lord Vishnu found the head of an elephant and brought Ganesha back to life. Henceforth, he became the Elephant God!
The birth of Ganesha is a myth that basically explains the uniqueness of Ganesha's head.