With Halloween weekend approaching, we have been in the mood for telling stories, but not the usual kind. Ghouls and ghost may be the usual suspects of this time of year, but we have a few other characters in mind. So pull up a chair and gather around the fire for a few tales about our statues and the mythology behind them…
The Birth of Ganesha:
Once, while the goddess of love, fertility and devotion, Parvati, was bathing, she gathered the dirt that had fallen from her body and collected in the bottom of her tub. Longing for a guardian for her door, as she did not desire anyone to intrude on her bath, she molded the dirt in her hands into the form of a child. The formation came to life and Parvati sent him to guard the door and settled back into her bath. When her partner, Shiva, returned home, he desired access to her bathing room. The young man charged with the task of guarding her door denied him entry. Shiva, already displeased to see a handsome young man near his wife’s bathing room, was outraged by his refusal, and in retaliation took off the boys head.
When Parvati saw this she was inconsolable at the loss of the child she had just created. So to appease her, Shiva sent for a new head for the boy, and his servants returned with the head of a young elephant.
Attaching the elephant’s head to the human’s body, Shiva revived the child, and thus Ganesha, god of new beginnings and remover of obstacles, was born. Shiva deemed him the leader of his troops and demanded that he would be worshiped and his name invoked before taking on any great new venture. Ganesha, from this time on, was known as the lord of success and great remover of obstacles.
The Immortality of Quan Yin:
Quan Yin, the goddess of compassion, is widely known for the depths of her compassion and unrelenting mercy. Known even to be reluctant to punish individuals for the worst crimes, Quan Yin sees the good within all beings. As she is truly enlightened and cares deeply for all living things, she has vowed to stay forever in earthly realms until all others have also become enlightened, and thus end their painful cycles of life, death, and rebirth.
Traveling with Jizo:
For those traveling through physical and spiritual realms, Jizo is known to be a protector. Particularly protective of children, he is said to guard them before birth, throughout childhood, and after death in the event of an untimely death. This also makes Jizo a protector of pregnant women.
He is also known to protect travelers through all six spiritual realms—Deva-gati: the heavenly realm of the gods, Asura-gati: the realm of titans, or strong beings often depicted as enemies of the gods, Preta-gati: the realm of hungry ghost, Naraka-gati: the hell realm, Tiryagyoni-gati: the animal-realm, and Manusya-gati: the human real.
The Bag of Hotei:
One of the Seven Gods of Luck, Hotei is often called the “Laughing Buddha”, and is known as the god of Contentment and Happiness. Hotei is depicted as carrying a cloth bag, which is filled with treasures, food, and drink that he uses to provide for the poor and downtrodden. This bag has no end and can never empty of supplies. It is said that Hotei is based on a person, likely a monk, who actually once lived.