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Ganesh Visarjan in India and its Mythological Significance
The colorful and energetic festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most-awaited and celebrated festivals of the country, both from the mythological as well as a cultural point of view. Being one of the most significant of all the festivals that are celebrated in the country, it brings people of different castes, creeds, and religions together which is not the case with many other festivals. The 10-day festival is celebrated every year with great enthusiasm and flair throughout the country. The beginning of the festival is popularly known as Ganesh Chaturthi and the 10th and final day of the festival is known as Ganesh Visarjan. It also goes by the name of Anant Chaturdashi.
Ganesh Chaturthi - Origin, Celebration and Legends:
TBefore we proceed to the immersion or visarjan part, we should take a look at the famous festival of Ganesh Chaturthi and try to understand its importance in Hindu mythology. According to a famous legend, once Lord Shiva was trying to enter the bathing spot of His wife, Goddess Parvati but Ganesha was strictly instructed by Goddess Parvati for not letting anyone get inside. Lord Shiva being who He is, lost His temper, became furious with anger, and cust Ganesha’s head. When Goddess Parvati came out and witnessed the horrible scene, she was devastated and heartbroken to see Her son lying dead without his head. She pleaded to Lord Shiva to return their son‘s life. Lord Shiva had calmed down by then and obliged Goddess Parvati’s request. He put an elephant head on Ganesha’s body and blessed Him to be the obstacle removers. Hence, from that day onwards, the birthday of Lord Ganesha is celebrated as Ganesha Chaturthi every year.
The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi was earlier being celebrated as a local festival on a small scale at households. Years later, during the reign of British, it was Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who made the introduction of Ganesha festival as a social event to bridge the gap between the Hindus and Muslims.
People bring Lord Ganesha’s idol to their homes and worship Him for 10 days, distribute prasad, organize different cultural activities and lot many other things which make this festival quite unique and amazing.
Ganesh Visarjan in India:
The final or last day of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival is popularly known as the Ananta Chaturdashi and it marks the end of the Ganesha festival for the particular year. This special day is celebrated with all glamour and charm and people request Lord Ganesha to return to His heavenly abode with a promise that He will return early next year.
People take the idol of Lord Ganesha which was used during the festival of Ganesha Chaturthi and immerse Him in the sea, pond, or lake. The procession in which Lord Ganesha’s idol is carried out with great vigor and unbelievable spirit. The procession is carried out from the place where the idol was worshipped to the place where it will be immersed. This is one of the major attractions of the Ganesha Chaturthi and people from different parts of the country witness this ritual with great interest.
Seeing the environmental concern which is quite evident, Lord Ganesha’s idols nowadays are immersed in artificial ponds or lakes. This is being done to encourage the celebration of eco-friendly Ganesha Chaturthi. The procession is carried out on a grand level where lakhs of devotees get together and pray Lord Ganesha to come back next year.
Idol Immersion & Associated Rituals and Farewell:
The wonderful festival of Lord Ganesha is celebrated grandly and there are cultural and mythological reasons behind its origination celebration. The idol which is worshipped during the Ganesha Chaturthi is usually created with clay. People buy or create Ganesha idols, worship it for a period of time and later on immerse it in water as per the rituals of the festival.
The environmental concern is something that cannot be ignored and it is not an exception in case of the Ganesha Chaturthi festival. As an old practice, people from different parts of the country still prefer to create Lord Ganesha’s idol with clay and water and it is believed that they do it as per the established relationship between the Hindu rituals and environment. Once the idol of Lord Ganesha is created, it is worshipped with turmeric and other herbs for 10 days and later gets immersed in the water. With the idol being immersed into the water, the natural herbs also get immersed along with the idol and it offers great benefits for the water animals. The immersion process or Ganesh Visarjan is conducted in grand style with a huge procession and it is something one should experience once in their lifetime.
On the first day of the Ganesha festival, the idol gets established in the house and this process of installing the Ganesha idol in one’s place is popularly known as Pran Prathistha. Pran Parathistha signifies the fact that Lord Ganesha is here to answer the prayers of His devotees and the devotees chant mantras for the next 10n days in praise of Lord Ganesha. On the 11th day, people immerse the idol in water and pray that Lord Ganesha should come back next year. Devotees pray to Lord Ganesha and seek forgiveness for all their misdeeds which they might have committed knowingly or unknowingly during their lifetime.
Ganesha Visarjan & it's Associated Symbolism:
The Hindus believe in the process of birth and rebirth and we consider this cycle as infinite which means one who has taken birth has to die someday and take re-birth according to their Karma. Another Hindu believe confirms that the Hindus worship the supreme soul which remains present in all living as well as non-living beings. Lord Ganesha who is considered as OM, the supreme sound is given shape with the usage of clay and water. Bringing the idol of Lord Ganesha to one’s home, worshipping it and later immersing it, signifies a cosmic law which states that everything that has taken form, has to become formless again. The reason why clay and water are used in the creation of the idols of Lord Ganesha is, though the form of Lord Ganesha’s idols changes, the energy, and its source remains the same. Creating the idols of Lord Ganesha with only clay and water displays this universal truth.
The Eco-Friendly Ganesha Visarjan:
The latest trend of eco-friendly Ganesha Visarjan is quite popular these days. Due to the rising water pollution due to the immersion of Ganesha idols in water bodies such as sea, lakes, or rivers, people and Government bodies have started taking an active part in celebrating the Visarjan ceremony in an environmentally friendly manner.
Many measures are being followed and few of them are:
The Visarjan or immersion of Lord Ganesha is as important as the installation of the idol of Lord Ganesha. The real charm and flavor of the festival can be seen and experienced in places like Mumbai. Lots and lots of pandals are set up in the city with a varied size of idols of Lord Ganesha. This festival is celebrated throughout the country in grand style and the Visarjan or immersion of the Lord that follows teach the valuable concept of detachment and it makes us remind that everything, every person, every relation, even our own body for which we do so many things, either good or bad, will eventually be reduced to Panch Mahabhoot which in other ways known as the Five Elements - fire, wind, water, sky, and earth) one day. The Ganesha Visarjan which holds a prominent place in the cultural and heritage walk of India reminds us all of our responsibility of taking care of our environment.
We wish you all a happy Ananta Chaturdashi.
Festivals play a significant role in our day to day lives. We worship different Gods and accordingly there are different festivals that we celebrate to mark the occasion. Festivals provide us with an opportunity to spend quality time with our family, friends and relatives. There are so many rituals attached to the festivals and this makes the entire concept of celebration of festivals even more colorful & exciting.
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