Size: 19.8 x 14.8 in (50.3 x 37.6 cm)
Date of printing: late 1870s
The portrait of Ganesha “Siddhi Vinayaka” was among the first images printed by the Chitrashala Press. This image carried ulterior political motives as the elephant-headed god was chosen as his personal deity by Lokmanya Tilak.
The Vinayaka Chaturthi (Ganesha festival) celebrates the descent of Ganesha to earth from Mount Kailash with his mother Parvati. It marks the establishing of Ganesha clay idols in private homes as well as in public places in Pune, during the month of Bhadrapad. This tradition was initiated by the Peshwa rulers in the 18th century. However at the time of the British Raj, the festival was reduced only to a simple private family celebration in Maharashtra. It was revived in Pune in the year 1893 by the freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak. His intention to celebrate the festival was to bring people of all castes and communities on a common platform to fight for India’s freedom. The festival was also used to share knowledge, exchange ideas and spread the message to fight for Indian Independence.
Ganesha appears here with one of his wives, Siddhi, the goddess of accomplishment. In his rear hands, he wields his father Shiva’s hatchet parashu and the elephant goad ankusha, an extremely political instrument with which he shows the path to follow in order to accomplish victory. Ganesha is also widely worshipped as the remover of obstacles and thought to bring good luck. He is also the god of intellect and wisdom and a patron of arts and sciences.