How Ganesh cursed the Moon - Ancient India - Hinduism
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How Ganesh cursed the Moon

Ganesh (Musee Guimet, Paris,
from Tamil Nadu, ca. 1500 AD)

September 2016 - Now long ago Brahma was sitting with Shiva when a man called Narada came along. And Narada offered a beautiful fruit to Shiva as a sacrifice. It was a really wonderful fruit, that Narada had chosen specially for Shiva. But Ganesh, Shiva's son, really loves fruit. He said he wanted it, and then of course Ganesh's brother Kartikeya wanted the fruit too. They started fighting and yelling, and Shiva asked the wise Brahma to decide who should eat the fruit.

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Brahma said Kartikeya should get the fruit because he was older, and so Kartikeya grabbed the sweet fruit. But Ganesh was still very angry. He tried to frighten Brahma by suddenly jumping out in front of Brahma in his scariest form. And Brahma was really scared! But then Chandra, the Moon God, began to laugh and laugh at silly Ganesh who was so greedy that he couldn't give the fruit to his father or his older brother, and so babyish that he couldn't control his anger.

people in a chariot with a big disc
Chandra in the moon chariot (ca. 100 BC,
now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York)

Now Ganesh turned all his anger on Chandra. "I'll get you, Chandra! I'll curse you - anyone who looks at you will be cursed themselves and will do something wrong. So nobody will ever look at you again!" Now that was very sad - imagine nobody ever looking at the beautiful moon! So the other gods Agni and Indra went to Ganesh and asked him to change his mind and forgive the moon for laughing at him. In the end, Ganesh is really soft-hearted, so he did forgive Chandra and people could look at the moon again - except for one night a year, on Ganesh's birthday, when Hindus believed it was unlucky to look at the moon.

Learn by doing - Hinduism
A possibly related story - Heng O, the Chinese moon goddess
Artemis, the Greek Moon Goddess

Bibliography and further reading about Hinduism:

Main Indian Religion page
Main India page
Main religion page

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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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  • Carr, K.E. . Study Guides, . Web. 26 April, 2017