Ganesh is one of the most renowned Hindu Gods who is worshiped not only in India, but across Asia and in many other parts of the world. With his elephant head, Ganesh is highly recognizable and is generally the figure who is used to represent the Hindu religion in the media. Ganesh is so popular that he even has spiritual significance for many people who aren’t Hindu. His image has become a popular tattoo design as a symbol of spirituality, religion and godliness.
The Meaning of Ganesh Tattoos
In the Hindu religion, Ganesh is the Lord of Beginnings and so he is usually called upon at the beginning of any ritual or ceremony. In tattoo art, new beginnings are often symbolized by designs like flowers and birds, representing spring, the season in which the world begins anew after winter. Tattoos of the Indian god Ganesh are often accompanied by flowers, especially the lotus flower. In many Ganesh tattoos, the god sits on a lotus flower in the lotus position in a symbol of spiritual openness.
Ganesh is revered as the Lord of Obstacles and the Remover of Obstacles. When a Hindu person wishes to succeed in a certain task, it is often Ganesh that they call upon to assist them. Ganesh’s role as a Remover of Obstacles is often described in images by placing a rat or a mouse at his feet. Rodents are a symbol of annoyance and destruction because they eat stored food and destroy crops. By displaying Ganesh as standing over the obstacle (the rodent), the design is depicting Ganesh’s power over such obstacles.
In most tattoo designs Ganesh has a large belly which has earned him the names Lambodara (hanging belly) and Mahodara (great belly). This physical feature is considered by many to be an important aspect of Ganesh’s appearance, as is is a symbol that within Ganesh reside all of the universes of past, present and future.
Ganesh is often depicted as having four arms. Not all pictures of the god describe him as having four arms – depictions of Hindu gods have changed over time and change from one region to the next. This means that images of Ganesh don’t necessarily have to have four arms. What he holds in each hand is symbolic and depends on whether the tattoo designer has given Ganesh traditional objects to hold, such as his own broken tusk, a lotus flower or if the tattoo designer has chosen objects that are symbolic to the client. Often, Ganesh holds up a hand to the viewer in a cautionary manner. The raised hand is also used in Hindu art to symbolize protection and the blessing of the god.
Hindu Designs in Tattoo Art
The Hindu religion is filled with beautiful art works of deities, animals and plants that are decorated with intricate patterns. These detailed images work well as tattoo designs and have a deeper, spiritual meaning for the tattoo owner. A lot of detail can be lost in smaller tattoos, and because of the complexity of most Hindu designs, it is best to place Hindu tattoos on a large part of the body that will provide a broad canvas for the design.
Ganesh is often depicted in a variety of poses, sitting, standing, dancing, fighting demons or playing with his family. The patterns on his clothing and body change from picture to picture, as does the color of his skin. His skin color appears to depend on what symbolism the artist is trying to capture within the picture. The most popular colors for Ganesh, in both Hindu art and tattoo designs are blue, green and pink.
Hindu gods are often depicted in art with a decoration on the brow to symbolize the third eye. These decorations can sometimes take the shape of symbols like the ohm sign, a symbol of spirituality and the inner realm. The ohm sign is also often used in the background of Ganesh tattoos, creating a link between Ganesh and the spiritual realm. Other symbols that are often found in Ganesh tattoos are an axe, a lotus flower, Ganesh’s broken tusk and a bowl of delicacies.