Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ganesh Chaturthi 11th day Closing – Why do we Submerge Ganesha in Water?

Namaste, Hari Om,

I wanted to talk about this event that is done at the end of Ganesh Chaturthi festival as it is never really talked about in detail. It’s a 11 day festival in which Lord Ganesh is worshiped and then submerged in the sea/water on the 11th day. While you read this post you can see pictures from our humble worship, we are not professionals in this murthi/idol making process, but with love in your heart anyone can be the best among professionals. 

First off, I was corrected by someone who said Ganesh is not the ‘’elephant God’’, but rather a elephant faced God. That person who correct me, was further corrected by another who said, Ganesha is the ‘’God with an elephant head’’. Technicalities are there for understanding, but as long as we know the story of Ganesha we should be ok.

Lord Ganesh, son of Parvati and Shiva, is widely known as the obstacle clearing God. To the general world he is well perceived as the one who brings good luck as well. The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is a time when we can pray to him for guidance on our path of spirituality and understanding the self. Worship comes in many forms and practices, but today we will analyze the Idol submergence on the last day.

Idol worship is nothing more than non-idol worship. Yes that sounds like a paradox but think about it, when you focus your mind and thoughts on something or someone, you close your eyes and capture the image of that object/person. With idol worship its one step in the process of going within, it helps stimulate the senses to help our mind go further as we internalize the sensory images, wishes and thoughts of what we are focusing on. Furthermore, channeling energy can be done with or without an idol/murthi.

Making Ganapati
Thus making the Idol at the beginning of Ganesh Chaturthi helps to not only build a connection with Lord Ganesh but to also input our energy in our hands (via our Nadis/nerve connections) into the Ganesha. You can build it yourself or buy one to worship then submerge, but building it yourself (no matter how it comes out), if done with love, has a greater meaning.

Back to the question - Why do we Submerge Ganesha in Water (called Visarjan or Vinayaka Nimarjana)? There are some reasons depending on how you look at things;

1.       Spiritual Level:  It is said that Lord Ganesh comes and meets us all for these few days, after the days are over he takes all of our wishes and negative energy to dispel with him as he journeys back to mount Kailash  to meet his mother and father, Shri Parvati and Lord Shiva. Submerging him is our way of sending him off on his journey. After worship of coconuts, modak, rice, flower etc.. Ganapati baba is worshiped by all in the streets/homes and sent to the sea. All of these rituals and process brings people together to share their energy, their love and their willingness of acceptance. Families and communities spend time together in a positive way in which harmony exists.

2.       Physical level with a spiritual connection: The Idol represents our love and devotion as well as our appreciation for Ganesha Ji. The idol was built from our minds and hands, we worshiped it physically daily and submerging it in water (which eventually the idol dissolves) represents our love and devotion being part of a greater picture of the world. Further there are symbolism of the submergence, it is to teach us that we are all one with the world and that we should not have attachment. We get very close to this physical form that was created yet this form of Ganesha is still there with us. The whole event teaches us that Lord Ganapati is still looking after us and is always there even after submergence as the presence of God is omnipresent and omnipotent.

Special Altar/Asaan made for
Ganapati Baba in our temple
Why all of these elaborate external sensory stimulating events and prayers? The goal of spirituality is to think spiritual and be in a mindset that lets you wear the glasses of truth. By first being one with the external world and these celebrations we can develop our inner outlook to go within. Just as I said earlier about Idol worship, all of these physical events are there for us as a stepping stone.

By thinking of God, good thoughts and well for the universe(s) we will bring positive energy to us faster. These festivals and rituals make up a portion of our path towards seeking our true selves within. Enjoy them and develop the love for what you are doing.

Using the sea is one option, but many
prefer a humble quiet offering
and later offering the water into
the earth/plants or even the sea
Bathing Ganapati baba with nariyal paani

Remember, Hinduism, spirituality or this desire of looking inward is not difficult – It is what you make it out to be. As long as you are a seeker you are already on the right path. Let everyday events in your life be satsangs (spiritual gatherings), worship and seva (charity). This does not mean have a kathaa (religious discourse) at work, but let good energy flow from yourself to another’s environment by saying positive thoughts about an action or trait. Sacrifice something every day in the name of God, give up your seat in a packed room, let a car go by who needs to pass or just simply hold a door for someone. When you feel that you are not progressing, dont look for outward approval from others or even from this world, everything is within. The heavenly aura of your inner beauty hypnotizes oneself like a soothing wind that envelopes a fragrant jasmine field. Without the wind (inner beauty) no one can know of the true divinity that comes from the Jasmine (ourselves).

May Lord Ganesh bless us all with prosperity towards the path of seeking the true self, help those without peace, food, shelter and without love – may they be blessed to have fulfillment and peace. Most importantly, may those negative energies stray away from our minds and environments.  

Jai Shri Maha SiddhiVinayaakaaya Namaha,
-          SimpleHinduBhai

Sending Ganapati Baba Away to Mount Kailash