In my previous post, The Birth of Ganesha, I narrated a story which depicted Ganesha as the creation of Goddess Parvati. There’s another story which depicts Ganesha as her creation. Under this Puranic legend, Goddess Parvati longed for a child and conveyed the same to Lord Shiva, who asked her to undertake the Punyaka penance. For a year, Goddess Parvati underwent trials and tribulations to test the strength of her vow. She completed each task and thus was granted a boon and was blessed with a son.
Gods and Goddesses from all over came to Mount Kailasa to bless this child. Even the nine planets (grahas) came to greet the divine couple and meet the newly born. One of the grahas, Shani, however refused to look at the child, as he was cursed by his jealous wife that whoever he looked at with admiration would be destroyed. Parvati insisted that Shani looked at her son and when he did, the head of the son got separated from the body.
This created a commotion on Mount Kailasa and Goddess Parvati wailed so loudly that Lord Vishnu came to see what had happened. Upon seeing the headless child, He flew off on Garuda, his vahana, to search for a head to replace the lost one. He found a herd of elephants sleeping on the banks of the river Pushpabhadra and chose one whose head was facing the north. This head of the elephant was placed on the boy, who was given life again by Vishnu. Lord Vishnu also gave him eight names, one of them was Ganesha.
There are also some stories that mention Ganesha as the mind-born son of Lord Shiva, who was created by Lord Shiva as the Lord of the ganas, or to protect the celestial beings from the demons that constantly troubled them.
When Lord Shiva created Ganesha, Parvati was so mesmerized by this young boy, that she vowed that human could begin anything auspicious without offering a prayer to Ganesha. Another story mentioned the opposite. Parvati was quite upset with Shiva for creating Ganesha without her intervention that she willed that the head of the boy turned into an elephant. But upon seeing the elephant-headed Ganesha, she fell in love with the boy and thus, placed him on his lap, and vowed that no auspicious human ritual could start before offering a prayer to Ganesha.
Whatever the story may be, he is one of the most loved Gods in the Hindu pantheon.