As the sun started to set, it was time for our clay Lord Ganesh idol to be immersed and I really did not want him to go. After ten days of adoration and worship, we now had to drop him into the lake. I have to admit, I didn’t feel good about it. My husband and everyone else didn’t see a problem with it but, not accustomed to throwing beautiful things in lakes, I was upset when my husband picked him up to go.
Once we left the house, I could hear the rhythm of celebration across the city, processions taking Lord Ganesh idols, big and small, to the lakes of Nagpur. We got into the car and drove to the lake, with Lord Ganesh sitting on my lap, seeing literally thousands of other idols sitting on laps in cars and the backs of trucks, even pulled along with tractors. As we got closer to the lake, the roads were so busy the traffic kept coming to a stand still, everyone with a Lord Ganesh on board, heading towards the same place. The atmosphere was electric with fireworks, dancing, drums and excitement.
Just before we arrived at the lake, volunteers collected the plastic bags containing the flowers which had adorned Ganesh idols, to avoid the plastic polluting the lake. The volunteers were also checking that the Ganesh idols were made on clay and not any material which could cause damage to the lake. I was really impressed that such care had been taken! In recent years the use of plaster of Paris has increased, this material causes a lot of pollution and should be immersed into a water tank and safely disposed of instead of into lakes or oceans.
After almost an hour of driving at a snail crawl, through the crowds and heavy traffic, we finally found a parking space and took Lord Ganesh to the water’s edge. A short and sad farewell followed by a large plop, he was gone.
Oh my gosh, what an unbelievable atmosphere at the lake, it was beautiful. People were performing a final aarti (offering a song and flame to God) and exchanging prasad (blessed food). A wonderful feeling of community and celebration, I really believe that Lord Ganesh was present, not only present, he was smiling.