Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the largest, loudest and most colourful festivals India has to offer. Lord Ganesh comes to town in the form of beautiful lovingly crafted clay idols and placed in homes and temporary temples (pandals) on almost every street … Continue reading
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.
After celebrating the love between Lord Shiva and Gauri (Goddess Parvati), we welcomed their son, Ganesh, into our home. Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most spectacular festivals on the Hindu calendar, many weeks of preparation have led up to this event, craftsmen and artists have been busy building idols of this round bellied God in a huge variety of sizes and poses. During the last couple of weeks, shops selling Lord Ganesh idols have popped up on every street. Lord Ganesh has been eagerly waiting to be welcomed into homes across India, last night the mass exodus occurred in a glorious fashion.
We chose our clay Ganesh idol a couple of weeks ago, but like the other Ganpatta Bappa statues waiting on the roadside, he had to wait festival began to come into our home. The night before the festival, the traffic terrible, the whole of Nagpur was out collecting their Lord Ganesh, buying decorations, flowers and sweets. It reminded me of Christmas eve in England, that last minute rush. A mixture of stress and excitement.
Just like Christmas, we bought tinsel, but instead of putting it around a tree, we used the shiny tinsel to decorate the area Lord Ganesh would be staying during the festival. The whole evening, especially the tinsel, reminded me of Christmas eve, of my family, and I became really emotional and home sick.
The morning started with a pooja (prayer) to invoke the spirit of Lord Ganesh into our clay statue, a priest came to chant the mantras as my husband performed the pooja. Lord Ganesh is said to bestow his presence to every one of his devotees during this auspicious time. After being adorned with the holy leaves of Hinduism, red flowers, haldi (tumeric), kumkum (red auspicious powder) and a touch of his heart, the divinity of Lord Ganesh dwells in the clay statue. I love hearing my husband chant Sanskrit.
That evening my husband and I went out for pav bhaji (one of the most amazing Indian dishes, originating from Mumbai) and we saw so many Lord Ganesh statues in trucks, travelling behind huge processions of dancing and drums.
The whole city was alive with beating drums, fireworks and celebrations. Before going to sleep we all performed another ritual to Lord Ganesh, aarti, where a small flame is offered to the God as a Sanskrit song is sang (me and Alfonso couldn’t sing the song, we didn’t know the words).