Why do Hindus offer prayers to Sri Ganesh before a special occasion?
Sri Ganeshaya Nama! Sri Ganesh is the most revered of Hindu gods. Before any special ceremony or auspicious occasion prayers are first offered to Sri Ganesh. He is vighanharta and master of Riddhi-Siddhi. This simply means that he removes all obstacles confronting devotees. A prayer, an offering or penance made for him ensures success. It brings wealth and prosperity.
He is easily pleased. Before any ceremony or special occasion all one needs to do is chant 'Sri Ganeshaya Nama' followed by the mantra:
Sri Ganesh is the God of learning and knowledge. Through devotion to him one learns to be responsible, to differentiate between good and bad and develop farsightedness. He teaches discipline. It is for this reason that offerings are first made to Sri Ganesh before a ceremony or auspicious occasion.
Two popular stories illustrate the importance of this custom.
In Padanpurana, it is narrated that when mankind was established the question arose as to who should be considered the most revered. To find an answer all the gods went to Brahmaji. To settle the issue Brahmaji declared that whoever went around the world and returned first would be the revered most.