‘Visarjan’ in Sanskrit means the act of respectfully requesting departure, generally related to a God or Goddess. Normally, when we hear this word, it is one particular ritual that comes to our mind, and that is ‘Ganesh Visarjan’. But, have you ever thought why the idol of Lord Ganesha is actually immersed in water, and what the significance of this ritual is?
The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is one that is celebrated with utmost joy and zeal. This festival that holds a very special place in the hearts of Indians all around the world has its roots running deep in the Indian history. It was initially started by Chhatrapati Shivaji Rao to popularize local culture, which became a widely accepted festival in Maharashtra, and mainly Pune. It was then carried on by the Peshwa rulers with equal enthusiasm. However, with the fall of Peshwas, the glory of the festival started declining. It was then the great Indian nationalist and freedom fighter, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who popularized the festival as a ‘Sarvajanik’ affair! It was he who started the concept of the idol of Lord Ganesh being submerged into water with a great procession. He took this step with the thought that making this festival a ‘Sarvajanik’ one will bridge the gap between the Brahmins and other castes on the Indian society, and unite the entire nation. Inaugurated to create a sense of nationalism and togetherness among the Indians during the British rule, this festival has maintained great importance ever since.
However, today people have forgotten the real history, and perceive the festival and its rituals in their own ways. It is believed that the whole essence of this ritual is based on the philosophy that after the idol of Lord Ganesha is brought into the homes of people and worshipped for so many days, the power and energy of the deity rises to an immeasurable level, which only Mother Earth has the power to control. So, it is believed that immersing the idol in water helps Mother Earth calm its power and helps him return to his Heavenly abode.
Another supporting belief is that this practice helps in balancing the environment. Earlier when the ritual was begun, idols were made of old clay that was dug up from several water bodies. In the few days of the Ganesh festival, the idols are clad with kumkum and turmeric, flowers and leaves. So, when the idol is immersed in water, the clay goes back to where it came from, while the turmeric, flowers and leaves serve as food for the aquatic life residing in the water bodies.
However, today Ganesh idols are made of Plaster of Paris and toxic chemical paints, which not only remain undissolved in water but also prove to be harmful for the aquatic life. This has made such an ecologically well-thought festival a hazardous one! Nonetheless, there is a ray of hope that the emerging society that is environmentally aware will realize this concern and return to celebrating the festival in its true sense, to keep Mother Nature safe and protected.
So, this year celebrate an eco-friendly Ganesh festival with idols made of clay, and make sure to observe the right rituals of the event by hiring the Pujaris of MakeMyPuja to do the needful by carrying out the rituals in the right manner.