Mayuri Amarnath Ganesha's Cramped Statue
Mayuri Amarnath is the author of "Ganesha's Cramped Statue," featuring artwork by Yogesh Mahajan.

Mayuri Amarnath and her family moved to Gilroy from San Jose a few years ago, and found that the South Asian community in the South County city is much smaller than it is farther north.

She said everyone she’s met in Gilroy has been very welcoming and curious about Indian culture, especially among children. She noted that many students at a local elementary school, where her children attend, ask the “most adorable” questions about the elephant-headed God, Ganesha.

To help youngsters learn about new cultures, Amarnath recently wrote and released “Ganesha’s Cramped Statue,” a children’s book that is available for purchase on

Amarnath took the time to answer a few questions by email from the Dispatch about her new book and why she wrote it.

What is your new book, “Ganesha’s Cramped Statue,” all about? 

“Ganesha’s Cramped Statue” is an unconventional story about the Indian festival, Ganesh Chaturthi. Over the centuries, Indian Gods have been imagined to have human-like traits and tempers. Our mythology is full of stories where they’ve strayed away from the noble path and have learned important lessons for all humankind.  

Here, I’ve imagined Ganesha, the elephant-headed Indian God, in a modern setting amongst kids who are not his devotees. 

In this story, Ganesha is excited about his birthday, which is celebrated on Earth as a festival, Ganesh Chaturti. Believers from all around the world will install and pray to statues of his likeness for 10 whole days. There will be delicious food, and special yummy laddus made just for him. Every year he parties with his devotees by going down to earth and living in one of his biggest, most lavish statues.

This year is no different. Ganesha is all set to go down to earth to bask in the glory of people’s admiration. He jumps into the river Sarasvati. But wait. What just happened? He is stuck. This is not the best statue on earth. He is stuck in a dingy, cramped statue. How is he going to get out?

In this fresh take on Ganesha Chaturthi, Ganesha, the Remover of Obstacles, has to overcome his own obstacles with the help of his new friends Khalid and Kabir.

Is this your first book?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been writing children’s stories as a coping mechanism. I worked with a part-time illustrator from India on my first few stories and published them in a “Read aloud” format on YouTube for everyone to watch for free. You can enjoy them at

Last year, I experimented with moving a couple of these books to physical paperbacks. My Duhsherra and Diwali stories are available to purchase in book form on Amazon. Moving from a video format to a paperback was a learning experience.

This is the first time I’ve written a story exclusively to be published as a book. 

What inspired you to write “Ganesha’s Cramped Statue”?

In the Hindu culture, everything starts with Ganesha. He is the Lord of all beginnings and remover of Obstacles. When we moved to California eight years ago, I considered myself an atheist and did not see the need to worship any God. Then our first Ganesh Chaturthi came along in this new country and my mother-in-law handed my then 1.5-year-old daughter this wooden Ganesha to color. She colored that idol beautifully. So, as a proud first-time mom, I kept the Ganesha on display. 

As we went through our growing pains and our trials in this new country, my traditional Hindu upbringing kicked in and I started to say a little prayer to this Ganesha in my mind now and again. At some point, my daughter and son began to ask questions about this idol. So, we got some books and read some stories about Ganesha before bed every night. It calmed us down.

We learned about other cultures and religions too, but we ended our days with this idol which created a rhythm in our lives. Last year, when I started to think about this idol, I realized I could no longer call myself an atheist. I light a diya (an Indian clay lamp) and pray to this little idol every week.

Slowly, a story idea started to form in my head. Where do my prayers go? Does Ganesha actually hear me? I wrote it down.

I didn’t think I would do anything about that story, but one day as I scrolled through Instagram I saw the Ganesh illustrations of Yogesh Mahajan, and my Ganesha came alive in my mind. I found him on a Facebook Group and hired him to work on this project with me.

This book is a result of our work together. 

Who is your book’s targeted audience?

With this book, I would like to reach kids who are growing up around unfamiliar and diverse cultures. I want to pique their interest. New and different should not feel weird. Instead, with stories that delight and inform, I’d like to make diverse cultures approachable to more kids. 

Another segment of my audience is kids who belong to these different cultures that haven’t always been a part of the landscape of this community. I want these kids to see their own reflections in my stories. I want them to feel like the gods they worship are interesting, and the stories they are told at home are fun enough to be shared with friends at school.

When these two segments of my audience interact and discuss each other’s stories, my book would have achieved the goals I set for it when I began this process of self-publishing.  

What message do you hope your readers will come away with?

In every culture, children are taught to pray and be grateful. To me, prayers are positive affirmations of our hopes and dreams. I want kids to believe that their prayers have power. The more honest and humble they are in their prayers, the more power and positivity they are spreading into the world. 

What is next for you?

More sweet stories for children of all ages.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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