There is an interesting story on lord Ganesha and god of wealth, Kubera. Though it is usually portrayed as a tale on Ganesha’s appetite, it evocatively communicates the importance of humility.
Kubera used to throw parties in his palatial palace in Alakapuri on Mount Himalaya with the sole reason of showing off his riches, wealth and hospitality. All the gods and goddesses used to attend these parties and lavished praised on him. Kubera used to enjoy all admiration and praise. One day he went to Mount Kailash to invite Shiva and Parvati to a grand feast he is organizing.
Knowing his hidden feeble intentions, Lord Shiva told his inability to come for the feast. Shiva assured Kubera that he will compensate for his absence by sending his son Ganesha to attend the party. Shiva also cautioned Kubera about Ganesha’s insatiable appetite. But Kubera was confident about the luxurious spread of dishes and happily took Ganesha to his palace. His confidence in his riches made him arrogant. He was overconfident that he could feed Ganesha in the most sumptuous manner. He actually belittled Ganesha’s appetite, and did not suspect any impending danger that would ruin his party.
After reaching the venue of the grand feast, little Ganesha showed his appetite to the full extent. He devoured everything the moment they are served. He literally gulped down all the food prepared for other guests too, and impatiently demanded more. Ganesha started eating plates, utensils, tableware, furniture, parts of palace etc. He was actually living up to his name ‘lambodara’, which means the huge bellied lord. Kubera tried to quiet down Ganesha by asking him to wait while cooks prepare more food. But he could not stop the irrepressible hunger of Ganesha.
Petrified at the scene, Kubera ran to Shiva for help and asked forgiveness for his arrogance. Lord Shiva gave a handful of rice to Kubera to quench his son’s hunger. He said that something as simple as a handful of roasted rice would satiate Ganesha, if it was offered with humility and love.
By the time Kubera reached Alakapuri, half of the palace was consumed by Ganesha. He humbly offered him rice and Ganesha was finally satisfied. Ganesha could eat food to his heart’s content, while Kubera learned a great lesson.