There are many popular Hindu gods and goddesses that are frequently used as images for body art; however one of the most distinctive and recognizable has to be a ganesha tattoo. This particular deity has the head of an elephant on a human body and has close links with the color red and the fragrance of sandalwood however Lord Ganesha is worshipped predominantly as the destroyer of selfishness, vanity and pride.

Ganesha TattooAccording to Indian folklore, various legends explain why this god ended up with the head of an elephant although the best known tale is that involving the son born to Shiva and Parvati. As an infant, the child suffered a severe head injury which threatened to end his life until the first animal in the jungle appeared. This was the elephant and somehow it lost its head and the child survived thanks to this zoomorphic transformation. Ganesha is truly the god of Everyman and is one of the most popular deities in India, perhaps due to his moral high ground as the Lord of Success and Destroyer of Obstacles, in both spiritual and materialistic matters. As such, many people from all walks of life can relate to a Ganesha tattoo and this image can be found from the humblest shack to the most luxury palace. He also has close connotations with education, representing scholarship and commerce so not surprisingly he is also considered to be a symbol of good luck to students particularly during exam time.

Hindu mythology also tells how Ganesha was asked to transcribe the Mahabharata – a sacred text – by the sage Vyasa but insisted on discovering the true meaning of what he was learning before passing it on to others. This particular legend conveys Ganesha’s wisdom as well as his conscientious approach to his duties which is why he is so closely linked to education and diligent work ethics. His prudent attitude is also called upon by businessmen who want his blessing for their commercial dealings while he is always honored in any inauguration ritual relating to writing and scholarship. Ganesha TattooHowever, despite his large ears that are always open to listen to his devotees’ requests, he will also use his powers on occasion to create obstacles for one who may be on a potentially harmful path.

Ganesha is also a popular figure in Hindu art dating back centuries and is depicted in many poses from sitting to dancing, at rest with his family and even battling demons. In some artwork he has two hands in others he has four but he usually holds a rosary to signify the importance of the ongoing pursuit of knowledge. In one of his other hands he also wields an axe to remove obstacles or to give man a push in the right direction if he strays from his spiritual path. There is always a snake prominent in any depiction of Ganesha and in some ganesha tattoos this may be wrapped around his waist or neck, held in his hands or entwined around the ankles. This serpent signifies the transformation of energies as Ganesha is closely linked to the chakra in the solar plexus, the energy centre from which the divine force of the universe is released into the world.

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