Discovering Ganesh is an interdisciplinary Indian cultural project that includes a multimedia exhibition, a high-end photography book, an educational website and adventure travel tours. Each element of Discovering Ganesh offers a different way to learn about one of India’s most intriguing deities.
Revered as the Remover of Obstacles, Ganesh is one of India’s most beloved Hindu Gods. Ganesh has been a ubiquitous presence in Indian art, philosophy and ritual for millennia. Now interest in Ganesh’s symbolism and meaning has taken root outside of India. Ganesh’s image, with an elephant head and a human body, is easily recognizable to many Westerners. However, few outside of the Hindu religion are familiar with what he represents or the traditions associated with him.
For the world’s one billion Hindus, Ganesh is a powerful and majestic deity, said to bring good fortune when launching new endeavors. He is also considered a patron-deity of the arts and the Lord of beginnings. The iconography and history of Ganesh go far beyond his link with good fortune. The imagery associated with Ganesh offers a spiritual map of sorts, his every feature rich with meaning both practical and esoteric.
Discovering Ganesh was created by Shana Dressler, a New York-based photographer and multimedia producer, out of her passion for India and the Hindu-deity Ganesh. This contemporary multi-faced project and its emphasis on Ganesh plays an important role during this century, at a time when there is a deepening of political, economic, and cultural connections between the United States and India.
In the past few years, India has become an increasingly important economic and political partner of the United States. Meanwhile, America’s connection to India has been evidenced in Westerners interest in yoga, mediation, ayurvedic medical treatment and a myriad of art forms of Indian origin.
By providing an entry point into the world of Indian and Hindu culture, Discovering Ganesh will help to illustrate and explain the historical legacy and spiritual significance that underlie India’s contributions to literature, the arts, medicine and philosophy. The project will shed light on why Ganesh is the one of the most embraced Hindu deities by non-Indians as both a spiritual and secular icon.