Ganesh is one of my favourite Hindu gods.
As lord Shiva's first son he is considered a great protector and remover of obstacles. He is the Lord of Wisdom; a god for everyone big and small, rich and poor, educated and illiterate.
Ganesh's elephant head and figure portray different symbolic meanings.
One of his most striking features is his huge body which is symbolic of the cosmos, or the universe. Everything, from the heavens and the earth, including all the gods, mankind and all manifestations of nature are encompassed within it.
His elephant head symbolizes auspiciousness, great wisdom and strength, and all the qualities of the elephant are found in Ganesh. He is very strong, yet very gentle. He is also a vegetarian, which means he does not kill to eat.
His large ears represent continuous and intelligent listening.
His trunk represents OM, the sound from which the world was created.
His tusks represent dualities, right and wrong, good and bad, etc. One of his tusks is broken and symbolises one who has gone beyond the dualities, and has transcended balance and symmetry.
His big mouth represents a good appetite and this certainly Ganesh has, but it also means his endless appetite for life.
Ganesh's vehicle is the mouse.A mouse, though tiny, is able to create havoc if set loose, and needs to be trained to be kept under control. It is often shown at Ganesh's feet, constantly nibbling away, symbolising the petty desires of men who nibble away their own being.
Ganesh is well known all over Asia, and relics of his images have been found as far away as Mexico and as far back as 1200 BC. But it is in India that he is most cherished and worshipped.
Painting a Ganesh when aware of all the symbolism is a meditation, a profound experience, not just an artistic representation.