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10 Oct 2016

Ganesha in Birmingham

The elephant-headed god Ganesha (Ganesh) forms an important part of the Hindu faith and is worshipped by almost all Hindus, both in the temple and at home. Most temples in the UK have a statue of him, often made in India and transported here. 

In Birmingham, the Hindu faith is practiced by around 22,000 people with temples found across the city. 

Stela Of Ganesha, 11th Century, Bihar, India
Stela of Ganesha, 11th century, Bihar, India.

There is great affection among Hindus for Ganesha, and Indian artists have depicted him for over a thousand years in different forms. The earliest image dates to around 400 AD. He is often understood according to the worshipper’s intentions and modern depictions of Ganesha sometimes portray him in a contemporary way.

Statue Of Ganesha, C 2005, Stratford Rd Birmingham
Statue of Ganesha, c.2005, Stratford Rd, Birmingham.

As the remover of obstacles, no ceremony or work can commence without reference to Ganesha. He is usually invoked during important times in a person’s life and when beginning something new such as moving house, starting a new job or even studying for exams. 

Necklace With Temple Tokens Depicting Ganesha And Parvati, Undated India
Necklace with temple tokens depicting Ganesha and Parvati, undated, India.

Birmingham’s collection contains numerous representations of Ganesha on sculpture, jewellery and on ephemera such as greetings cards. Several representations can be seen in the Faith in Birmingham gallery as part of the Celebrating Ganesha exhibition tour. These Ganesha images were recently blessed in a ceremony conducted by the priest from the Shree Ram Mandir, Sparkbrook. Offerings of flowers and coins have been left in the gallery to welcome Ganesha to Birmingham.

Celebrating Ganesha , a British Museum Spotlight Tour is open at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery until 8 January 2017. Admission is free.

Modern Statue Of Ganesha In The Faith In Birmingham Gallery
Modern statue of Ganesha in the Faith in Birmingham Gallery.