Ganesh is normally depicted holding three objects in his hands: an elephant prod, known as an "ankusha;" a noose, known as a "pasha;" and a bowl of sweets, known as a "modaka." Each of these objects symbolizes a concept that Ganesh is meant to characterize as a deity.
In India, the ankusha and pasha are used to bring wild elephants under control. Ganesh carries these objects to remind his followers to bring their minds under control as an elephant trainer tames a wild elephant. The pasha also signifies that attachment to worldly desires is like a noose, while the ankusha is meant to prod humankind along the path of truth. The modaka symbolizes the sweetness that comes to those who achieve enlightenment or self-realization.