Thursday, January 2, 2014

SYMBOLISM OF GANAPATHI VISARJAN

I am an ardent devotee of Ganapathi Bappa. But despite of that I had no answer when my husband asked me why the idol is immersed in water. Hence I started enquiring about it and found many answers including the spiritual as well as the environmental aspect.  I made a study on it which I wanted to share with the readers of Annapoorna Srishti.

Vinayaka Chaturthi or Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations end with the immersion or Visarjan of clay
Ganapati idol in water. Hindus worship Brahman or the Supreme Soul present in all animate and
inanimate. But for majority of the people it is not possible to worship this formlessness. They need a form to pray to, to seek help, to cry and to take blessings. Ganesha is ‘OM’ - the primordial sound or the first ‘Vaak.’ Nirguna Para Brahman takes the form of Ganesha.

Clay and water is mixed to give form to the formlessness. Each person brings Ganesha in clay idol
form into the home. This is the Supreme Being arriving at home. After the celebrations, it is time to
accept the eternal cosmic law that which took form has to become formless again. It is a never
ending cycle (Chakra) in which the formlessness gives way to form and then moving again towards
formlessness. Each year Ganesha arrives to teach us that forms change but the Supreme Truth
remains the same. Body perishes but Brahman residing in it remains constant. This body becomes
energy for another but the source of energy is the same.

Bliss is achieved when we realize this. The act also symbolizes the concept of Moksha, or liberation, in Hinduism. Osho says – ‘Absolute unclinging. That is what is meant by Moksha – freedom – no clinging, not even to gods.’ Thus we create Ganesha out of clay, worship it and later it is submerged (Visarjan).

Gradually the clay dissolves into water. Ganesh's image disappears. This ritual is designed by our
ancestors to draw attention to the 'ephemeral nature of life and worldly things' showing that nothing
in this mortal world lasts forever.

It celebrates the fact of life of Creation (Idol construction), Perpetuation (21) the number of days
keep varying in various religion) of days celebrations and finally Visarjan or immersion
(Destruction) in water bodies! With Fun and fair! The celebration points to the fact that death is
imperative/essential for Creation of new! That’s why people say-Ganapati bappa moriya, Agle varsh too jaldee Aa!

Due to the ritualistic worship, the idol of Sri Ganesh is charged with the Ganesh Principle. By
immersing the idol in flowing water the Ganesh Principle in the idol also flows and spreads far and
wide. With the evaporation of the water charged with the Ganesh principle, the entire environment
also becomes sattvik.

To reserve fresh water of rainy season in ponds, lakes, tanks and other water bodies we need to dig
out the old clay or soil in them. To show the accordance between environmental awareness and
Hindu rituals, Ganesh idols are prepared with clay of tanks or ponds. But why the clay idols are
immersed in the same water from where the artisans picked out the clay? The clay idol is
worshiped with turmeric and some other natural herbs during the Ganapathi pooja. The herbal
characters of these materials help the water animals like fish, tortoise, etc to grow well.

Ganesh festival is not only a Hindu ritual but it also reminds us the protection of environment. As
per the scriptures and traditions only clay idols are to be worshipped and immersed in water. Those
who celebrate Ganesh festival in eco-friendly manner and those who avoid immersion of eco-harmful and eco-hazardous material in water would be blessed.

Important: Use only clay Ganesh idol and please do not throw plastic in water. Perform a symbolic
immersion in a bucket of water and then use it to water plants. (This is for those who celebrate it at
home).