Many idols of Lord Ganesha depict a snake tied around his waist and the reason why is SUCH a cute story!
On the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, Goddess Parvati is offered many sweets and eats by other Gods. Of these, is the Modak. A huge hit with Lord Ganesha. In fact, on one particular occasion, He had had so many of them that his big belly was struggling to hold them all in.
Come nightfall, He decided to return home on his vaahan, Mooshak. Unfortunately, Mooshak tripped on a snake that was lying across the road and Lord Ganesha falls off his back. As he hits the ground, his tummy bursts open and all the sweets roll out across the road. After getting up, He is aware of loud laughter coming from somewhere close by.
Looking around, He discerns that it is actually the moon God and his seven wives in the sky. They had seen him fall off and had found it funny enough to laugh uproariously. This upset Lord Ganesha and in a fit of rage declared ‘YOU DARE TO HUMILIATE ME LIKE THIS! Then listen…. You are proud of your silvery glory and the beauty of your wives. However, your brightness will start diminishing night by night until no one on earth will be able to see you anymore and as you lose your ability to shine, so will you lose your wives one by one until you will be dim and all alone in this world!’
In those days, the moon used to be full every night and used to shine almost as brightly as the sun. Because of this, he realised the enormity of the curse and descended to the earth along with all his wives, pleading Ganpati to withdraw his words and to forgive them. However, once a curse is spoken, it cannot be taken back and even though He felt bad about it, there was little that Ganpati could do to take it back. After giving the matter deep thought, He said ‘I have something that would blunt the edge of this curse for you. Firstly, while you will diminish in glow and glory until you vanish from sight, this will last only one night each month and you will grow again to what you are today. This will continue until eternity. Now, while all your wives might not be able to stay with you all the time, you can choose one wife who will always be around you so you are not alone.’
The moon chose Rohini, his favourite wife to be near him all the time. To this day, the moon waxes and wanes in a monthly cycle and his beautiful wife Rohini can be seen shining steadily, always close to him.
But the story isn’t over yet!
The moon and his wives weren’t the only one who laughed at Lord Ganesha. The snake which had caused all this hulabaloo was still close by and had also found the whole situation funny. Ganpati turned to him and picked him up. He put all the spilled sweets back into his tummy and used the snake to tie his belly up.