How Ganesha got an elephant head?

Lord Ganesha, of all the Hindu deities, is very appealing to children and so to adults. He attracts attention because of his appearance and children love him as he is a food lover, especially sweets. Ganesha amuses children as he travels on a small mouse being huge himself. Being artists’ delight, Ganesha must be the only deity awed by almost everyone. He is loved and prayed by all. So how did he end up with an elephant’s head…?

God Shiva and Goddess Parvathi had no children. When Parvathi asks for a child, Shiva does not understand children as he is a spiritual ascetic. He does not understand the happiness they bring along and love and joy of being in a family. Goddess did not give up! She made a mould of a baby with rubbings of turmeric paste she had anointed herself. Placing that doll on a Betal leaf, she breathes life into it. Behold, a son Vinayaka was born. Vi-Nayaka, one born without a husband. 

She loves and care for him and she is very happy with him. One day, she asks Vinayaka to guard the door of her cave and instructs him not to let anyone inside. When Shiva returned he was surprised to see Vinayaka as the doorkeeper. As Vinayaka does not know Shiva, he refuses let him in to meet Parvathi.  Shiva is enraged as he was not able to meet his own wife. In the fight that follows Shiva beheads Vinayaka.

Parvathi wails at the sight of beheaded son. Sorrow turns to fury and demands that her son be resurrected. Shaken Shiva, orders his Ganas (Gana is Shiva’s followers) to fetch the first beast they find in the northern direction. So they found an elephant and Shiva places the elephant’s head on the severed neck of Vinayaka and breathes life to the boy. Shiva names the resurrected boy as Ganapati the ‘lord of the Ganas’, and his son.

Thus with Ganapati, Shiva, a spiritual-ascetic, understood how much he was attached to his wife and his sudden emotion to his son Ganapati. By resurrecting son of Parvathi, Shiva became his father and a householder. 

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