Here’s a quick cartoon…using my favorite Eco-Hero…Elephantom! -Mani
Introducing an old symbol to a New Era….!
Adventures of Elephantom are fully illustrated graphics style stories for children, full of fun & adventure, but also teaching them eco-awareness in a gentle way. And this one takes the readers through themes such as spirituality, death of a family group, healing, learning, duty to ancestors and personal transformation.
I created `Elephantom’ way back in 1994, for an eco-newsletter called `Unity’ that my friend Harmony was publishing for young eco-campaigners. (I met Harmony while doing lots of fundraising for an Eco-organisation called `Environmental Investigation Agency- EIA).
The original story was just a 4-panel cartoon, but Elephantom has been living in Greeting cards (my brand) that I have sent to many family & friends. It was only last year (2011) that Elephantom was fully brought back into public eye, as part of our `Gaian Times eco-magazine’. Many cartoons were created showing Elephantom’s adventures. And then I got thinking – he needs a proper origin story. That work started in September 2011, and is now complete. Over 25+ A3 sized black & white panels. It started off as a simple story-telling but as it evolved in its own way, I realised so much of my own trials and tribulations, ideals and beliefs were seeping into it as symbolism.
Coming from a Hindu background, I honour and worship the elephant-headed god Ganesh. And I grew up reading comic books- where heroes fight villains. Well for the modern era, the biggest villainy that the world faces are ecological & environmental disasters. And so that becomes Elephantom’s main cause. I say `main’, because there is a whole lot of fun to be had with a character such as him. He’s already met Einstein, Mr Spock, put out fires of London Riots, gone for a police post interview and hosted the `Zebra’ meeting – amongst other things!
So join me in welcoming Elephantom. He’s here to stay..and he will grow.Coming soon.
FREE pre-launch OFFER to all readers!
I am giving away free download e-copies of the ‘Elephantom Origins’ to every one…This offer ends on 29th Sept’12. So hurry.
Visit the website www,Elephantom.co.uk to read about the full offer.
After writing my blog this morning on the birthday & mythology of the Hindu (elephant headed) God Ganesh, I went to attend a training course – on interview techniques. Nothing I don’t know already (must write about that!) but this is one I had to attend. It was in Wimbledon. So afterwards I tried going to the Ganesh temple. It was packed, and no parking space anywhere!
So I was driving back with disappointment, and memories of my own personal experiences came back to me – which I thought I’d share here, as part of the festive celebrations (in my own way). After all, a temple is where you make it, and Hindu Priests have been known in ancient times to build `inner temples’ meditatively – efforts that had taken them years. It is known that Hindu gods had favoured such inner temples. (another blog to write!)
Back to Elephants – one of the sacred animals in Hinduism – an eastern pagan religion.
The Ride on Elephant
My earliest memory of Elephants, like for most people, was at a Zoo, and it was back in Sri Lanka. I do recall one occasion where my parents paid for me to go for a ride on a Zoo Elephant. They are big creatures, and once you mount them, on one of those people-carrier basket things that can hold about 5-6 people at a time, it’s incredible – especially when the Elephant starts walking – away from any tall stands. It gentle wobbles of course and walks slowly. I don’t remember much more, but that is a precious experience to have had. These days people who visit 3rd world countries and nature reserves (africa?) can quite easily have one of these elephant rides. If you get a chance, do have a go. I mean, how often can one say he or she had a ride on the largest mammal on the planet? !
The Temple Elephant
My second Elephant experience was at a Temple – and it was with a Temple Elephant, back in Sri Lanka. It was a sacred special temple, one that my grandmother & family had to hire a coach and drive a day to get to – as part of a pilgrimage. I remember then getting to the booked accommodation (large room, where all of us slept ..with just sheets on the floor). The part that still stays in my mind is the bathing in the nearby river in the evening. It was expected, and there were no other facilities anyway. And straight afterwards, while still wet, we had to make our way up the mountain paths to the temple – for worship.
It was the temple in Kathirkama, where Priests do not speak. They have their mouths covered by a piece of cloth! There is a similar temple in Wales, UK that I have been to, where they do this.
Well, after the Pooja, I was guided to the area where the temple elephant resided. As was tradition, I was `blessed by the Elephant’ (on the nudge of the Keeper, the Elephant places its trunk in a blessing manner on my head!) I was a very young boy and what came next was even more previous now to remember. My relatives told me to circle around the Elephant and pray, and also walk under it. So I did – went in from one side, walked under the Elephant, came out the other side from it’s body!
I don’t think it ever occurred to me that if the beast had decided to move in haste or upset, or anything of the sort, I would have been splatted in a second! At the time, I was focused on it as a spiritual experience- and still do.
There are many auspicious days pooja (prayers), fasting & festivals in the Hindu (religious) calendar. Today is one of them.
It is called `Vinayahar Sathurthi’ where Vonayagar is one of the names for the Elephant-headed Hindu God, also known as Ganesh and Pillayar. Sathurthi’s are special days that happen every month, but the one on this month is the most sacred of all, and belongs to God Ganesh.
Myth of the Elephant-headed God Ganesh.
Ganesh, son of Parvathi (Shakthi) and Shiva (in a manner of speaking) was not born with the elephant head! That came later. He was originally born as a human. Born is the wrong word, as he was `made’ or created by his mother – the great Goddess Shakthi (which means `power’ amongst other things).
The mythology goes that Shakthi was fed up of being intruded by her husband the God Shiva, whenever Shakthi was taking her bath (and he would just walk in). So she set a guard outside. But when the Lord Shiva came through, the guard was hesitant and did not stop him. How could he stop Shiva, who was not only the husband of Parvathi, but also the god of all gods?
Realising that she needs a guard who will not falter, Parvathi set about creating a statue of a boy, using her own skin fragments as clay! She brought this to life (she is Goddess!) and asked him to guard her privacy, and let none through. And so that is what the boy did – when Shiva tried to enter the Chambers.
Initially Shiva’s attempts to talk his way through failed, so he escalated his efforts with force. But the boy was powerful enough to stand against that. Eventually Shiva had to call in all the other gods.. Brahma (the Creator god), Vishnu (the protector God) and more. All joined forces and the conflict became a big battle of magic. The boy defeated all their efforts, and still stood firm. In the end, using diverting tactics, the gods cut the boy’s head off! And rejoiced!
When Parvathi heard this, she was intensely angered. Out of her anger came two fierce war goddesses – Durga and Kali, and they began to destroy not only the gods, but the worlds!
The other gods pleaded with Parvathi for mercy. And she request that her Son be brought back to life! (and Shiva realised who the boy must have been..!) But as the head was missing, Shiva told the others to go in a direction, and bring back the head of the first animal they see. So the other gods travel, and find an elephant, ad brought its head – which Lord Shiva fixed to the headless boy, and brought him back to life. (It often bothers me that the Gods would go kill an innocent animal, but wold mythologies are full of all sorts of such violent acts by the gods!)
Shiva then takes the resurrected boy to his wife Parvathi, and she was semi-pleased. Shiva then proclaimed to all the worlds – that the first prayer in any ceremony or ritual should always go towards the boy, named Ganesh,
This is seen in any hindu ritual to date. People spend the first few minutes or seconds praying to God Ganesh. Sometimes they have images, in other cases, they use `Saani’ (the dung of a sacred cow!) or Tumeric powder-paste to make a small cone, and stick a sacred grass in it. This is treated as a divine symbol of Ganesh, and first prayers and respects are given, before proceeding with the main purpose of any pooja or festivities.
related link. Elephantom Origins – new story by Mani Navasothy