Ganapati, Ganesh, Lord of the Ganas, Lord of the People
Ganesha, also spelled Ganesh, also called Ganapati, elephant-headed Hindu god of beginnings, who is traditionally worshipped before any major enterprise and is the patron of intellectuals, bankers, scribes, and authors. His name means both “Lord of the People” (gana means the common people) and “Lord of the Ganas” (Ganesha is the chief of the ganas, the goblin hosts of Shiva). Ganesha is potbellied and generally depicted as holding in his hand a few round Indian sweets, of which he is inordinately fond. His vehicle (vahana) is the large Indian bandicoot rat, which symbolizes Ganesha’s ability to overcome anything to get what he wants. Like a rat and like an elephant, Ganesha is a remover of obstacles. The 10-day late-summer (August–September) festival Ganesh Chaturthi is devoted to him.