Om Shri Gaṇeshāya Namah (Om! salutation to the Illustrious Ganesha)
Lord Ganesha, also known as Ganapati and Vinayaka, is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon. Devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends to Jains and Buddhists.
Although Ganesha has many attributes, he is readily identified by his elephant head. He is widely revered, more specifically, as the remover of obstacles and thought to bring good luck; the patron of arts and sciences; and the deva of intellect and wisdom. As the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of rites and ceremonies.
Though Ganesha is popularly held to be the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, the Puranik myths give different versions about his birth. In some he was created by Parvati, or by Shiva or created by Shiva and Parvati, in another he appeared mysteriously and was discovered by Shiva and Parvati or he was born from the elephant headed goddess Malini after she drank Parvati’s bath water that had been thrown in the river.
The family includes his brother, the god of war, Kartikeya, who is also called Skanda and Murugan.
Lord Ganesha is worshipped on many religious and secular occasions, especially at the beginning of ventures such as buying a vehicle or starting a business. Devotees believe that if Ganesha is propitiated, he grants success, prosperity and protection against adversity.
Ganesha is a non-sectarian deity. Hindus of all denominations invoke him at the beginning of prayers, important undertakings, and religious ceremonies. Dancers and musicians, particularly in southern India, begin art performances such as the Bharatnatyam dance with a prayer to Ganesha.