What are some Indian good luck charms

The elephant god Ganesha in Hinduism

There is no Hindu ritual in which Ganesha is not asked for assistance first. You call him for school enrollment, business deals, final exams or marriages. He is the lucky charm in all good ventures, because he removes obstacles out of the way. Material as well as spiritual. That makes it so versatile, emphasizes Wiebke Lobo, head of the South Asia department at the Ethnological Museum Berlin.

"Ganesha is the god of wisdom, science and the arts. He is of great importance to school children. First they learn a hymn to him so that he can promote learning. Ganesha is also very important for the various stages of life. And above all Things for the transitions from one stage of life to another. If you as a young person decide to get married, then Ganesha must be called to the wedding ceremony so that he brings luck, so that he protects the young couple and so that he accompanies this transition into a completely different stage of life . "

Countless myths tell how Ganesha got his elephant head. One of the most famous reports that it was created by the goddess Parvati. Her husband, Lord Shiva, had retired as an ascetic to meditate in the Himalayas. She was lonely and wanted a child. This is how she formed Ganesha. The guarded Parvati at the door from the eyes of strangers. When Shiva returned years later, Ganesha did not let the stranger in. Shiva angrily knocked his head off his body. His wife was angry and asked her husband to restore Ganesha. But his head couldn't be found again. So Shiva promised to give him the head of the first being he met. It was an elephant.

"The whole figure of Ganesha is to be understood symbolically. His large elephant head means intelligence. And this intelligence should be like the trunk, namely at the same time strong and sensitive. The elephant trunk can tear up a tree and gently lift a blade of grass from the ground. That means discernment. And this is a very important goal in Indian philosophy: to distinguish between important and unimportant, good and bad. That is what Ganesha represents. "

There are Ganesha statues made of stone, bronze, ivory, plaster of paris, clay, and even paper mache and plastic. Usually the elephant-headed god sits on a throne and wears a crown. Sometimes he also stands or dances. So that Ganesha can be worshiped in his image like any other Hindu god, this is enlivened by a ritual.

"This is the so-called 'eye opening ceremony', in which the breath is also entered. And from this moment on, after this ceremony, the deities are first present in the figures. And then they are actually present there, and the believers can direct Contact you. "

Ganesha is ritually worshiped every fourth day after the full or new moon. Many parts of India also have their own festival dedicated to the popular god. It originated in Pune, Maharashtra state, 110 years ago. India's national hero Bal Gangadhar Tilak wanted to unite all Hindus in a big festival and bring them to the streets. As an anti-British action. But also as a demarcation from the Muslims. The festival has been celebrated since 1893. The religious scholar Johannes Beltz from the Museum Rietberg in Zurich was there several times in Pune with the camera.

"It is so that at the beginning people bring a Ganesha figure home, that Ganesha figures are set up in shrines, in marquees, that Ganesha is present for ten days. He is at home with people for 10 days and for to look at and worship in the shrines for ten days. And at the end of the festival there is a great final procession, a great parade, during which the Ganesha figures are all brought to a body of water and are sunk there. "

Which leads to quite a bit of environmental problems. Entire cities of Maharashtra live from the production of hundreds of thousands of cult figures every year. Religion, commerce and political propaganda mix at the Ganesha festival. The festival tents remind Johannes Beltz of show booths with moving figures, light reflections and loud music. The installations mostly deal with themes from mythology. But not only.

"There are literacy campaigns, people are calling for vaccinations, political problems with Pakistan are presented, summit meetings between Indian and Pakistani prime ministers, nuclear missile tests, everything that was important somewhere in India is then put on one of these stages."

The scenes are designed by associations from the individual districts. Of course, political parties also try to use the festival for their campaigns. Especially when an election is just around the corner. Hindu nationalists celebrate their heroes, advertise Indian toothpaste or, as after the Pakistani-Indian war, have Ganesha in general's uniform ride on a tank.

"And then in the evening the townspeople of Pune move from showroom to showroom and watch it. And that is the big event this year. And at the end of the festival, the Ganeshas are taken out of the installations, put on floats and everyone goes to the Driven and sunk water. "