Morgan's Mission

An Elephant Head God

Elephants are pretty popular in Thailand. You will find this animal on just about everything from pants to scarves to soaps to statues. They are just everywhere. The symbol of an elephant to Thai people can mean good luck, wisdom, fertility, and protection amongst other things.

So in Thailand there’s this elephant head god that’s pretty popular. One of the reasons being that the symbol of this god is for good luck. I love elephants for God created them. I think all the elephant things are neat, but this elephant is totally different from the rest of them. It’s very creepy to me and sometimes even has three to five heads. It’s worshipped quite regularly and looks evil.

I decided to research why people worship this elephant head god and what is its purpose of being worshipped. There are actually several stories of how this god came about for it’s a myth, but this is what I have understood about it.

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It appears that there was a Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati at one time. Goddess Parvati was scared of evil spirits watching her bathe so she formed a human child from the dirt of the earth to guard the entrance of the door. While she was bathing, Lord Shiva wanted in the room and the child wouldn’t allow it. He never met his “father” Lord Shiva nor did Lord Shiva meet his “son”. (From this myth, the child does not belong to Lord Shiva but only to Goddess Parvati for she made him from the dirt.) Angry that the boy wouldn’t let him in, he beheaded the child.

Even though Lord Shiva had a terrible temper, Lord Shiva also had a good heart. Finding out that the child was only obeying his mother, he wanted to bring the child back to life. So he killed an elephant calf and put its head onto the body of the child. (One of the tusks from the elephant head shattered and later in the model of the idol, he’s holding his tusk in his hand.)

Because Goddess Parvati was scared her son would not be worshipped cause of his appearance, Lord Shiva named him “Ganesha” meaning “leader of all the classes of beings or Ganas” which is the leader of all the gods. So the gods blessed him to be the god who people would worship first before any holiday or ritual for he is the god of beginnings. He was also blessed with wisdom and intellect.

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Even though this religion is Hinduism, Thai people worship this elephant head god and pay respect to him frequently from the result of overlapping beliefs within their culture. He is known as a clay idol being formed from the dirt but today you mainly see it in gold.

Can you imagine reading this as a bed time story to children? It’s a famous one to tell children for this elephant god brings peace and calmness. Their children stories or nursery rhymes are quite different in Asia and are questionably scary if you ask me.

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