Edited by: Ms. Sharmila Nasarpuri
Ganesh is a much-loved Deity of India. He has an elephant head with a long trunk, a round belly, two big ears and the body of a human. He is always depicted sitting with a mouse or travelling on a mouse, his ‘Vahan’ or vehicle. There are many interesting stories about him.
One day when Ganesh came home after playing, he saw an invitation with his name on it. He opened the invitation and read that there was to be a celebration. ‘Oh! What excitement’ he thought, “I have to go to a party. I love to eat good food. I must get ready and call my Vahan to take me.”
Ganesh had been eating a lot and was heavy and his mouse was unhappy as he had to carry so much weight.
On the day of the party, having worn his best clothes, Ganesh set out on his mouse for the party. Once the food was served Ganesh ate and ate. He loved sweets and kept on eating the laddoos also known as MODAKS (round sweetmeats) that were being served. He ate till he could eat no more. When the party was over, he thanked his hosts and climbed on the back of his Mouse to go home. By the time he left it was night and the mouse was finding it difficult to walk with Ganesh on his back. Ganesh in the meantime was very happy and satisfied with a full stomach. He was in a blissful state, almost drowsy.
The night was bright as the Moon was out. The Moon could see that the Mouse was burdened under Ganesh’s weight. The road was dusty and there were a lot of small pebbles on the way. The Mouse, tired of the weight suddenly tossed Ganesh on the road and started to run. Ganesh came out of his post dinner stupor and fell flat on the road. His stomach burst open and all the modaks that he had eaten rolled out of his stomach onto the road. Ganesh was angry with his Mouse and called out
“Hey come back, come back, all my modaks have rolled out. My stomach has burst open.”
“Oh!” He shouted “come back and help me.”
The Mouse replied
“I cannot carry you as you have eaten so much and are very heavy. The road is uneven and full of potholes. My short legs are paining, cut and bleeding. Help yourself”
So saying, the Mouse scampered away.
Ganesh got up and grumbling to himself started collecting all the Modaks from the road. He carefully stuffed all the Modaks back into his open stomach and tried to close his stomach. But now he needed to tie the split stomach to keep the Modaks inside. Ganesh looked around the place and saw a snake lying near a tree. He quickly picked up the snake and tied him around his stomach very happy with himself.
The Moon was in the sky shining brightly and he was watching Ganesh very keenly and was amused. He laughed and laughed at the Mouse throwing Ganesh off his back, Ganesh’s stomach splitting open, all the Modaks rolling out, Ganesh collecting the Modaks and then finally tying a snake on his stomach to secure it.
Ganesh had been busy gathering his Modaks and when he heard the Moon chortling with laughter, he looked up. On seeing the Moon’s mirth Ganesh lost his temper.
“How dare you laugh at me. This is not funny.”
So saying he broke off his tusk and hurled it at the Moon while cursing him. The Moon took a hit and disappeared from the night sky losing all its brightness. This is the reason Ganesh has one tusk and is also called ‘Ekdanta’.
When the Moon disappeared from the sky all the other Gods got worried and tried to reason with Ganesh.
“You can’t banish him like this. You lost your temper which is not good. You also need to take better care of your Mouse. Do be reasonable” they said.
“So what if the Moon laughed, He is ready to apologize to you. You have to restore the moon”. By this time Ganesh had mellowed down and admitted that the whole episode was indeed funny.
The Moon came then and said “O Ganesh, please forgive me for laughing at you. Please reinstate my brightness and I will be forever grateful”.
“Moon, I cannot restore you to your full former glory because of my curse. However, I can reduce the impact of the curse. From now on you will get bigger for the first fifteen days of the month and the next fifteen days you will get smaller and smaller; till at the end of the month you will resemble my tusk.”
On hearing this, the moon thanked Ganesh and left. The Gods were also happy that everything was settled and Ganesh started walking home for a good night’s rest.