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In Hinduism, Ganesha ("lord of the hosts," also spelled Ganesa) is the god of wisdom, intelligence, education and prudence. He is a son of Shiva and Parvati, and a husband of Bharati. In art, he is depicted as a fat yellow or red man with four hands and the head of a one-tusked[?] elephant, riding or attended to by a rat, who is sometimes given the name Mooshika.

Ganesha acquired his head through varying methods in different stories. In one, Shiva decapitated him because Ganesha refused to allow him to enter the bath while Parvati was bathing. Shiva had to give him the new head to placate his wife. In another version, Parvati showed the child off to Shiva, whose face burned his head to ashes, which Brahma told Shiva to replace with the first head he could find--in this case, that of an elephant. The lack of a second tusk is explained by a different myth. An avatar of Vishnu, Parashurama, once went to visit Shiva but the way was blocked by Ganesha. Parasurama threw his axe at him and Ganesha, knowing the axe had been given to him by Shiva, allowed it cut off one of his tusks.

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