Ganesha as the god of beginnings in Hindu mythology is honored at the initiation of ceremonies and rites. He is also invoked as a patron of learning and letters during writing sessions.
The term ‘Ganesha’ derives from Sanskrit – the words Gana means a “group” and isha means “lord or master.” Gana is referred to the multitude of semi-divine beings that develop part of the retinue of Ganesha’s father, Shiva.
He has been portrayed with the head of an elephant since the earlier times of his appearance in the Indian art form. There are several conjectures to this.
Ganesha uses a mouse (shrew) as a mount in five out of the eight incarnations as described in the Mudgala Purana. He uses a divine serpent Shesha as Vighnaraja, a lion as Vakratunda and Mohotkata, a horse as Dhumraketu, and a peacock as Mayuresvara and Vikate.
Ganesha is widely worshipped as the remover of obstructions – Vighneshvara, Vighnaraja, or Vighnaharta. Paul Courtright states the dharma of Ganesha is to remove and create obstacles.
Lord Ganesha is worshipped on several secular occasions, especially at the beginning of ventures such as starting a business or buying a vehicle.