Ganesh, the Hindu god of success, was the son of the goddess Parvati. He is also worshipped as the deity of doorways, education, knowledge, wisdom, and wealth. According to myth, Ganesh's mother created him from a rag doll when her husband, Shiva, denied her the right to have children. Parvati made her young son guardian of her boudoir. One day, Shiva came to Parvati’s chamber, and Ganesh refused him entrance. Shiva was enraged, and—not recognizing Ganesh—cut off the boy’s head. When Parvati saw what had happened, she was inconsolable. In an effort to soothe her, Shiva replaced Ganesh’s severed head with that of an elephant and accepted him as his son.
Siddhi, the personification of spiritual power and one of Ganesh’s consorts, perches on his leg holding a basket of round sweets called laddus, which represent the rewards of living a wise life. The tusk in Ganesh’s lower right hand signifies self-sacrifice. He broke it off so that he could use it to write the sacred epic poem the Mahabharata. The couple’s seat above a rat, said to be the greediest member of the animal kingdom, symbolizes control over the constantly gnawing creature and the human vice it represents.