There's no doubt that Lord Ganesha is one of the most celebrated gods in India. The recently concluded week-long festival of Ganesh Chaturthi bears testimony to his popularity. But did you know that the only country in the world to have had Ganesha on its currency note is not India but Indonesia?
Recently, Bollywood filmmaker Tanuj Garg left everyone stunned by sharing a picture of the old Indonesian 20,000 rupiah note carrying a Ganesha picture on it. Yes, it is for real. The picture shared by Tarun was captioned as 'the only country on earth to have Lord Ganesha on a currency note is the largest Muslim populated country - Indonesia.'
But why did a Muslim majority country have Ganesha on its currency note?
Here are some facts you might not know about the world's largest island country:
The Indonesian government has officially recognised six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Over 87 per cent of the population follows Islam, making it the most populous Muslim nation.
Only a meagre 1.7 per cent of the population are Hindus. Yet, the country shares a beautiful history with Hinduism, including several historical sites, which show the long association of Indonesians with the Hindu religion.
Parts of Indonesia were once under the rule of the Chola dynasty when a slew of temples was constructed there.
Lord Ganesha's status as the god of wisdom, art and science could be one of the reasons he was featured on the currency note.
Indonesians are familiar with the Mahabharata and Ramayana. The country even has statues evoking Hindu culture, including the statue of Arjuna and Krishna riding a chariot at Jakarta square and the Indonesian military's Hanuman mascot.
Incidentally, Indonesia's first President Sukarno was named after the Mahabharata character Karna. His daughter Megawati Sukarnoputri, who later succeeded him, was named by former Odisha Chief Minister Biju Patnaik. Megawati means 'cloud goddess' in Sanskrit.
The island of Bali, one of the favourite tourist spots of Indians, is a Hindu majority region. Interestingly, in 2011, a newly designed 50,000 rupiah note was issued, carrying a picture of a famous temple in Bali, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan.
Isn't that mind-blowing? Next time you visit Indonesia, remember to visit these places too.