Ganesh, commonly known and easily recognised as the Elephant-God, is one of the most popular deities of the Hindu pantheon. Before every undertaking – be it laying of the foundation of a house or opening a shop or beginning any other work, blessings of Lord Ganesh are invoked by worshipping him first.
In modern age Ganesh is regarded as the personification of those qualities which surmount all difficulties. He is the typical lord of success in life and its accompaniments of good living, prosperity and peace.
The vehicle of Ganesh is a rat. As rats generally succeed in gnawing their way through every obstruction, the rat symbolises this God’s ability to destroy every obstacle.
Ganesh represents the unity of the small being, the man, with the Great Being, the elephant. It is the blending of microcosm with macrocosm, of drop with the ocean and of individual soul with divinity.
One of Ganesha’s roles is to entertain his parents, which he does by dancing. Shiva, Ganesha, and all the dwarfish ganas love to dance because the act of dancing is spiritually significant in Hinduism.
It is related to the perpetual cycle of creation and destruction, called samsara,that defines the universe and from which humans seek to escape.
Yet, when Ganesha dances for his parents, he is in a comic aspect. One can imagine his oversized ears, his long trunk, and swelled stomach bouncing gently as the god moves his arms and legs.
But even though Ganesha’s form appears bulky, his movements seem to have buoyancy.
He is often shown stepping to the right or left with one foot and thrusting the opposite hip outward, creating a strong sense of action. In this image, his dancing seems to be less sure, with his right leg dragging behind the left. Perhaps this slightly clumsy dance was meant to especially delight his parents.