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27 Jan

The name Ganesha is a Sanskrit compound, joining the words gana (gaṇa), meaning a group, multitude, or categorical system and isha (īśa), meaning lord or master. Narain differentiates these terms by saying that pillai means a "child" while pillaiyar means a "noble child".The most recurrent motif in these stories is that Ganesha was created by Parvati using clay to protect her and Shiva beheaded him when Ganesha came between Shiva and Parvati.Shiva then replaced Ganesha's original head with that of an elephant.Gaṇādhipa (equivalent to Ganapati and Ganesha), Ekadanta (one who has one tusk), Heramba, Lambodara (one who has a pot belly, or, literally, one who has a hanging belly), and Gajanana (gajānana); having the face of an elephant. He adds that the words pallu, pella, and pell in the Dravidian family of languages signify "tooth or tusk", also "elephant tooth or tusk".He may be portrayed standing, dancing, heroically taking action against demons, playing with his family as a boy, sitting down or on an elevated seat, or engaging in a range of contemporary situations.

For example, white is associated with his representations as Heramba-Ganapati and Rina-Mochana-Ganapati (Ganapati Who Releases from Bondage).

Of the eight incarnations of Ganesha described in the Mudgala Purana, Ganesha uses a mouse (shrew) in five of them, a lion in his incarnation as Vakratunda, a peacock in his incarnation as Vikata, and Shesha, the divine serpent, in his incarnation as Vighnaraja.

The influence of this old constellation of iconographic elements can still be seen in contemporary representations of Ganesha.

In one modern form, the only variation from these old elements is that the lower-right hand does not hold the broken tusk but is turned towards the viewer in a gesture of protection or fearlessness (abhaya mudra).

Upon Ganesha's forehead may be a third eye or the sectarian mark (IAST: tilaka), which consists of three horizontal lines.

Many examples of color associations with specific meditation forms are prescribed in the Sritattvanidhi, a treatise on Hindu iconography.

In northern Indian variants of this story, the sons are often said to be Śubha (auspiciouness) and Lābha.