Ganapathy - son of Shiva and Parvathy, is one of the popular deities worshipped by Hindus. Ganapathy Puja was prevalent in Kerala since the ancient times. All temple events and other good events starts with a Ganapathy Homam or by breaking a coconut in front of Lord Ganesha.
Ganesha is the God of Knowledge and is invoked at the commencement of any function. He is the god that protects his devotees from any obstacles(vighnam). Hence the name Vighneswara. He is also described as the Supreme Leader(Vinayaka).Ganapathy is said to have had two spouses. Buddhi(intellect) and Siddhi(achievement). Thus he is the master of knowledge and achievement. As Ekadanta, the Lord has limitless powers. As Heramba, he removes obstacles. As Lambodara, He protects all worlds. As Surpa Karna, He shows compassion by giving the highest knowledge. All these names for Lord Vinayaka, who is the Lord of all.
The Lord has four hands. In one hand he has a rope(ankusha) while in another he has an axe. With the axe he cuts off the attachment of his devotees to the world of plurality and thus end all the sorrows that go with it. The rope is used to pull the devotee close and closer to the Truth. The holding of the ankusha represents His rulership of the world. It is the emblem of divine Royalty. In a third hand he holds a rice ball that represents the joys of Sadhana. With the other hand he blesses his devotees and protects them from obstacles that they may encounter on their Spiritual path of seeking the Supreme.
The form of Ganapathi cannot, by any human standards, be termed as handsome. He has a small head, big stomach and uncouth form. But still we are captivated by His form and like to see Him more and more and worship Him. Beauty does not lie in the Aakaara, the external form but can be experienced even in Vikaara (apparent uncouthness). He has as his vehicle a small mouse.The significance of riding on a mouse is the complete conquest over egoism. Riding on a mouse, one of nature's smallest creatures and having the head of an elephant, the biggest of all animals, denotes that Ganesha is the creator of all creatures. Elephants are very wise animals; this indicates that Lord Ganesha is an embodiment of wisdom. It also denotes the process of evolution--the mouse gradually evolves into an elephant and finally becomes a man. This is why Ganesha has a human body, an elephant's head and a mouse as His vehicle. This is the symbolic philosophy of His form.
Ganesha sacrificed his own tusk and used it as a pen to write down the Mahaabhaaratha to the dictation of Vyaasa, for the benefit of humanity. He is also considered the most intelligent. A challenge was thrown to brothers Ganapathy and Karthikeya by Sage Narada. The challenge was whoever went around the globe first would have the fruit first. Karthikeya went around the world which took quite some time while Ganapathy went round his parents thrice and claimed the fruit. The logic he gave was that since his parents represented the universe he had gone round them.Ganapathi taught that one should respect one's parents and thereby win their grace and secure bliss.
This is the birthday of Lord Ganesha. It is the day most sacred to Lord Ganesha. Vinayaka Chaturthi is grandly celebrated in Kerala. All temples especially Ganapathy temples celebrate this festival.Vinayaka Chaturthi falls on the 4th day of the new moon in the month of Chingam (August-September).On that day rituals like Gaja Pooja,Aanayoottu and Ashtadravya Mahaganapathi Homam were performed in the temples.
Ganapathy likes Modakam very much. On one of His birthdays He was going around house to house accepting the offerings of sweet Modakams. Having eaten a good number of these, He set out moving on His mouse at night. Suddenly the mouse stumbled--it had seen a snake and became frightened--with the result that Ganesha fell down. His stomach burst open and all the sweet puddings came out. But Ganesha stuffed them back into His stomach and, catching hold of the snake, tied it around His belly.Seeing all this, the moon in the sky had a hearty laugh. This unseemly behaviour of the moon annoyed Him immensely and so he pulled out one of His tusks and hurled it against the moon, and cursed that no one should look at the moon on the Vinayaka Chaturthi day. If anyone does, he will surely earn a bad name, censure or ill-repute. However, if by mistake someone does happen to look at the moon on this day, then the only way he can be freed from the curse is by repeating or listening to the story of how Lord Krishna cleared His character regarding the Syamantaka jewel.