Ganesh: The God with the Elephant Head

26.09.2003 to 01.02.2004

Ethnologisches Museum

Elephant-headed Ganesh is present everywhere in India; he is one of the most popular gods in the Hindu Pantheon. You can find statues and depictions of him not only in temples, but also on family altars, crossroads, or in restaurants and shops.

Ganesh is called upon when spiritual, physical or psychic obstacles have to be overcome. As the God of wisdom and the arts and sciences, he is important for students and pupils. His enormous elephant head is a symbol of mental power. The astonishing ability of his trunk to tear out trees as well as to pick up a blade of grass stands for his high power of differentiation - an important goal in Indian philosophy. Ganesh's protection is sought in particular at ceremonies marking important transition stages of life - birth, youth, marriage and death.

The public festival in honour of Ganesh has been gaining in global prominence in recent years. Hindu people in the United States, France, Germany and Switzerland celebrate the god in extensive processions. The exhibition outlines different aspects of Ganesh worship, using stone sculptures, bronze and clay figures, miniature paintings, textile pictures and a modern family altar. In addition, ceremonies of worship held by Hindu people from Berlin allow an insight in Indian religious ritual.