Ganesh Visarjan: Lord Ganesh Goes Home

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.

gorgeous sky india

lord ganesh visarjan flowers

Just before we left…

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.

Lord Ganesh Selfie

Lord Ganesh selfie, the car journey

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.

Seconds before the plop!

Seconds before the plop!

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.

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Final aarti

6 ganesh line

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Why do Hindus Immerse their Gods & Goddesses?

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 do Hindus immerse their Gods & Goddesses?

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.

Why Do Hindus Immerse Their Gods and Goddesses?

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.  

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If you know of any other reason idols are immersed, please share below.