Birth of Ganesh

Part of a series of entries retelling Hindu legends about different Gods in my own words. While there are over 330 million Hindu gods, I’ll just tell stories that I encounter, or stories about particular gods that fascinate me. This is the second part of a four part retelling of legends concerning Ganesha.

There are many stories about Ganesha’s birth and how he got his elephant head, but this one is the most popular.


Parvati was staying alone in her palace because Lord Shiva was away on business. She had a problem: she wanted to bathe but there were a lot of creeps around and she was scared they would creep on her and watch.

So to solve this, she used her sandalwood and perfumes to create a statue of a little boy, and then used her power to give the statue life. The boy was very strong, and very charming, and she ordered him to stand guard at her door and not let anyone enter. He obediently sat down in the middle of the doorway blocking it.

While she was bathing, Shiva returned early to surprise her. However, he was stopped at the door by the little boy. Shiva tried to explain that he lived there however, the kid acted very unchildlike and actually followed his mother’s orders. Shiva became frustrated and enraged, and very sensibly cut the boy’s head off with his sword.

Parvati came out from her bathroom soon after this, and when she saw the body of the little boy, she started crying. She told Shiva to fix it and bring him back to life… Or else!

Guilt ridden, Shiva tried to retrieve the boy’s head, but they were unable to find it. It had rolled away and was nowhere to be seen. So he made them go down to Earth and bring back the head of the first animal that they saw. It just so happened to be an elephant: so Shiva fixed the head to the boys body and brought him back to life.

Shiva and Parvati adopted the boy and named him Ganesha: meaning Lord of all Groups (or communities).

Here is an animation of the story for kids (warning: its a bit slooooooooowww):


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