The day after Hartalika, we took our husband’s made of sand to the lake to immerse them. Next week, on the last day of Ganesh Chaturthi, the Ganesh idols being worshiped in homes and communities across India, will meet the same watery fate.
Why throw idols which have the invoked spirit of God inside them into murky and polluted water?
Immersion of the statue is symbolic of our own life cycle, our bodies dissolve and we get fresh new ones when we are reborn. The clay returns to the bottom of the lake, destined to be dug up again the following year, and crafted into new idols. It is very important only clay idols are immersed as idols made from plaster of Paris cause pollution. It is said that eco-friendly immersion of the idols brings more good fortune, respecting the environment is a huge part of Hindu dharma (a complicated word to translate, it basically means ‘eternal law’).
This sentiment reminds me of the words, from the common book of prayer, spoken at a Christian funeral, “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life”.
The fact that new idols are made every year is also symbolic of creation and supports the creators, the craftsmen and artists of India. We made our Shiva linga statues ourselves but during festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and Durga Puja, thousands of idols are made and this supports the families of the men and women producing them.
When we arrived at the lake to immerse our Shiva lingas, there were many other ladies already there immersing their husbands made of sand. Some singing songs and performing more rituals. With a small plop, our Shiva lingas returned to the lake until next year.
If you know of any other reason idols are immersed, please share below.