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Why is Lord Ganesha prayed to or invoked in the beginning of all religious and auspicious ceremonies?

In Hinduism, all religious and auspicious ceremonies begin with the invocation of Lord Ganesh. The first prayer in all ceremonies, religious or secular, is dedicated to Lord Ganesha. But why is Lord Ganesha invoked in the beginning of all auspicious ceremonies? Because He is Vighneshvara, destroyer of obstacles and his blessing is necessary for the smooth conduct and functioning of any activity in the world. There is also an interesting incident mentioned in Hindu scriptures, which explains why the first prayer is always to Ganesha.

The answer to why Lord Ganesha is always the first God invoked in all religious ceremonies is linked to his divine birth.

Goddess Parvati using her supernatural powers gave birth to Lord Ganesha and assigned him the duty to guard the house while she was bathing inside. Lord Shiva appears and is denied entry by Ganesha as he is unaware that Shiva is Goddess Parvati’s husband. Lord Shiva too is unaware about Ganesha’s birth.

After a verbal duel, two engage in pushing and an angry Shiva takes out His trident and strikes and this cuts off the head of the boy.

Hearing the commotion, Goddess Parvati arrives at the scene. She demands the life of her son be brought back. Realizing his mistake, Shiva sends his attendance to fetch the head of the first living being sleeping facing north. The attendants find an elephant and brings its head. Shiva restores the life of Ganesha with the head of the elephant and makes him the commander of his attendants.

But Goddess Parvati was not happy with the revival. She said that Shiva had made his handsome son into an elephant and nobody will worship him and he will get no respect.

Lord Shiva then declared that from this moment Ganesha will be worshipped first, before the beginning of all ceremonies. All Gods and Goddess will be offered pujas and prayers only after paying respect to Ganesh. This declaration of Lord Shiva is followed even today.

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