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Thousands of years ago, a very brave, powerful and wise warrior, the commander-in-chief of all the hordes of the Lord of the Himalayas, protected all the people who lived in the country from the mountain ranges of the north to the seas of the south. The people of this country viewed him as benign and lovable, as a deity who would destroy all obstacles to their prosperity. The people of the neighbouring countries viewed him as a terrifying being, who needed to be placated out of fear. The people of the country celebrated his birthday in style. They made wonderful asanas for him to sit on, offered him water to wash his feet and hands. They gave him clear water to drink and worshipped him with beautiful flowers and fragrant incense and sandalwood. They made him so many delicious things to eat. They made sure that he was shaded by a white umbrella and that there was plenty of sugarcane about. He had a big head, big ears and a large stomach. He was very fond of sweets. He was very talented. There was nothing he could not do. He could sing, play music, dance and fight. He was an expert in all that was there to know. Once one of his friends (Chandra) laughed at his big stomach. He turned half a horde (danta) of his on Chandra. Chandra was very sorry and apologised at once. Vinayaka ruled that no one should invite Chandra home again and offer him hospitality and worship. Chandra asked for a lighter sentence. Then Vinayaka relented a little. He said that if he was invited and worshipped first and this story was remembered then it was alright for people to look at Chandra and be friends with him.
Vinayaka loved small children and would help them with their questions and studies. He knew all the answers. He could explain things in a way that children would understand at once. Children used to keep all their books ready for Vinayaka’s visit. Vinayaka had a deep and understanding heart. When grown-ups took their problems to him, he not only solved their problems, but he also removed their sorrow. As the people of the country prospered and multiplied, and with the passage of time, people started making pictures and images of Vinayaka and showing all their love, devotion and respect to the image. They told their children that Vinayaka now lived in their hearts. So that the children could eat all the delicious things made for Vinayaka as long as it was offered to Him first. Children would keep their books under the image of Ganesha as the asana and make umbrellas for him out of paper. The people would offer him water, flowers, salutations and delicious snacks as they always had, from times immemorial. They entertained Him with their music and dance. And Vinayaka would help the children with their studies and the grown-ups with their problems and needs as He always had done. They loved Him as their dearest friend and He protected them.