Lord Ganesha is considered to be one of the main deities in the Hindu pantheon, also called Ganpati or Vinayaka. The term “Ganesha” is formed from two words “Gana” means flock, multitude or attendants and here it to refers to the attendants of Lord Shiva, “the transformer” while “ish” means master or lord, so the term ” Ganesha” means master of the attendants of Lord Shiva. Lord Ganesha is worshipped through chanting a Ganesha Sahasranama which contains “one thousand names of Lord Ganesha”, each name conveys a different meaning and it signifies different aspects of Lord Ganesha.
Lord Ganesha is one of the most distinguished gods due to his depiction of having an elephant head while others hindu gods and goddesses are generally shown with humanoid appearance. There many origin stories behind the elephant head of Lord Ganesha and his naming, the most popular of the myths goes as:
“One day while Devi Partvati or Aadhishakti(also known as Shakti) was going to take a bath and she created a boy from the dirt of her own body to protect her while bathing. When Lord Shiva came there to meet the goddess, the boy barred him from entering, Lord Shiva well-known for his anger used his “Trishula” or trident to cut off the boy’s head, Lord Shiva’s astra or weapon the trident “Trishula” is said to destroy anything it attacks so the boy’s head was obliterated. Seeing the great grief of his wife Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva set his troop to search for the head of anyone who is sleeping while facing North, his troops found an elephant and cut his head and bought it back to Lord Shiva, who is known as “The destroyer” and “The transformer, who can change anything(including reality)” attached the elephant’s head and blessed the boy to be worshipped before the start of any work or venture and appointed him the commander or master of his troops(known as Ganas), thus his name came to be Ganesha or Ganpati.”
The above story not only shows the origin of the name of Lord Ganesha but his elephant head also while there are other stories also but the birth of Lord Ganesha, according to the hindu calendar, in the month of Bhaadrapada, the Ganesh Chaturthi celebration or Bhadrapada Shukla Chaturthi starts and goes for 10 days ending with Anant Chaturdashi. During this period of 10 days clay images of Lord Ganesha are installed at public pandals and worshipped for ten days, then these images or idols are immersed in a water body like a lake or any other large body of water. This last day marks the end of celebration and all the people come together to carry the idol or clay image of Lord Ganesha to the nearest water body and submerged them, in some places this day is considered as a holiday.
On the eve of Ganesh chaturthi people visit each other and exchange some gifts, “Modaks” are offered as the god’s “prasad” or his blessings and distributed amongst the worshippers all the people celebrate with happiness and devotion the festival is one of the grandest festival specially in the state of Maharashtra where the Ganesha Chaturthi is publicly celebrated and gifts and sweet delicacies are exchanged, some people even celebrate it as birthdays are normally celebrated and cut the cake in the name of Lord Ganesha. This festival is said to usher the people in to new levels of prosperity and happiness.