Ganesha is the elephant-headed God. He is worshiped first in any prayers. He is the God of power and wisdom. There are stories which tell how Ganesha got Elephant’s Head.
Sage Kashyap Curse To Shiva
Ganesha’s birth relates to an incident in which Shiva killed Aditya, the son of a sage Kashyapa. Shiva restored life to the dead boy by replacing Aditya’s head to Indra’s elephant, but this could not pacify the outraged sage Kashyapa. Kashyap cursed Shiva and declared that Shiva’s son would lose his head and undergo the same fate as his own son.
Shiva Fixed Elephant Head To His Son
After creating Ganesha from sandalwood (Read more), Parvati posted Ganesha on guard duty at the door. Parvati ordered Ganesha not to allow anyone to enter the house, and Ganesha followed his mother’s orders. After a while, Shiva came home. Even after telling him that he is the husband of Parvati, Ganesha didn’t allow him to enter inside. Shiva got angry and ordered his army to destroy the boy, but they didn’t succeeded! Such power did Ganesha possess, being the son of Shakti (Power) Herself!
Shiva cut off the head of Ganesha and threw it away using his trident.
When Parvati knew this, she became furious and decided to destroy the entire Creation! Lord Brahma, being the Creator, pleaded that she reconsider her plan. She said she would, but only if two conditions were met, one, that Ganesha be brought back to life, and two, that he be forever worshipped before all the other gods.
Shiva sent Brahma out and bring back the head of the first creature he crosses that is laying with its head facing North. Brahma soon returned with the head of a strong and powerful elephant, which Shiva fixed onto Ganesha’s body. Breathing new life into him, Shiva declared Ganesha to be his elder son and made him chief of his army. As promissed, Shiva gave him the status of being foremost among the gods, and leader of all the ganas (classes of beings), Ganapati.
Shiva and Parvati’s Gift To Gajasura
Once there was an elephant-demon, called Gajasura, who was undergoing a penitence. Shiva, pleased by Gajasura, asked him what he desired. The demon requested Shiva to live in his belly.
Shiva granted this request and he took up residence in the demon’s stomach. When Shiva did not return Kailasha, Parvati searched him everywhere without results. She went to Vishnu, asking him to find her husband. Vishnu, who knows everything, reassured her, “Don’t worry, Shiva promptly grants to his devotees whatever they ask of him, without regard for the consequences; for this reason, I think he is into some trouble. I will find out what has happened.”
Then Vishnu dressed himself as flutist and transformed Nandi (the bull of Shiva) into a dancing bull. Vishnu conducted Nandi in front of Gajasura. Pleased with the enchanting performance of the bull and flutist, asked the flutist to tell him what he desired. The flutist said: “Release Shiva from your belly.” Gajasura understood that flutist was none other than Vishnu himself, the only one who could have known that secret. Knowning this, Gajasura threw himself at Vishnu’s feet. He liberated Shiva and asked him one last wish, “I request you that everyone remember me adoring my head when I am dead.” Shiva, after Gajasura’s death, substitued his head to his own son. From then on, in India, the tradition is that any action, in order to prosper, must begin with the adoration of Ganesha. This is the gift of Shiva to Gajasura.
The Gaze Of Shani
Goddess Parvati invited all Gods to come and see her baby which she got from Lord Vishnu’s blessings. When Lord Shani (Planet Saturn) came and had a look at the baby, the baby’s head was burnt because Shani was cursed with the gaze of destruction. Lord Vishnu mounted on Garuda and traveled throughout the world and brought back a head of an elephant which was fixed to the baby. All Gods present there blessed the baby, that unless he is worshipped first, they would not accept any worship.