All good things commence with Ganesha. As we look forward to 2013, let us begin with a salute to the ‘Lord of auspicious beginnings’.

*Ganesha, the elephant- headed God of the Ganas, is one of the most popular deities in the Hindu pantheon.

*While Ganesha worship has references in the Vedas and Upanishads, it is believed that he emerged as an important deity during the Gupta period (4th – 5th CE AD).

*Ganesha Purana, Mudgala Purana and Ganapati Atharvashirsa are some key scriptures dedicated to him.

*Chatrapati Shivaji, the Maratha King, is said to have initiated the practice of celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi as a public event during his reign. Several centuries later, Lokmanya Tilak, the reformer, institutionalised these public celebrations to unite people against the British.

*There are several important Ganesha temples in India including the well- known Shodasha Ganapati in Tamilnadu and the Ashthavinayak cluster in Maharashtra.

*The influence of Ganesha goes beyond India to places such as Thailand, Cambodia, the Malay Archipelago, Tibet and Japan.

*Several music composers including Muttuswami Dikshitar, Purandara Dasa and Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi have authored compositions on the elephant- headed deity.

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