“Vakratunda Mahakay, Suryakoti Samaprabh, Nivrvighnam Kurumedev, Sarvkayeshu Sarvada”!!!!!
Lord Ganesha is loved by everyone! Being the first God to be worshiped by Hindus this deity is often called as Ganapati, Mangal Murty or Ekdanta etc by His followers. Ganesha is told to be obstacle remover; Hindus worship Him first before performing any rituals on every auspicious occasion. His idol is also placed in each and every household to be worshiped daily.
Ganesha Chaturthi marks His birthday which is celebrated with pomp and shows in India and Internationally by His devotees. People invite Ganapati to arrive in their home as a guest and stay with them for some days. Ganesha Idol is kept in the houses or communities even for 10 days. Depending on people’s choice, some people keep it for 1 and a half day, some for 3, 5,7 and 10 days, the eleventh day, with the farewell on Ananth Chaturdashi. Lord Ganesha is believed to bring happiness as He arrives at home and takes away all sorrows and troubles when He leaves.
History : Long back during Independence, Lokmanya Tilak, one of the freedom fighters of India started tradition of keeping Ganesha idol at the center of a big community to celebrate Ganesha’s birthday. By this, he wanted to enlighten the community spirit; people came to worship Him together every morning and evening for 10 days which spread the happiness, brotherhood and festivities among the neighbors. The Motto was only to have festive and loving engagement between the neighbors and neighborhood.
But as years passed by people started their own traditions of keeping His statue in a community or sometimes you’ll even find 5 Statues in a single community, whereas earlier it happened to be 2 or 3 communities coming to celebrate together. Now, most of the people even chose to keep their own Idols in their individual households.
Sthapana (Establishment): People bring Ganesh Statues in their home and decorate the temple for Him to stay for next 10 days. Most of the households keep it for 1 and half days, some of 3,5 and 7 days. 10 days is mostly in big tents or temples, He bids farewell on the 11th day. By establishing Ganesh Idol at home, people believe Ganesha will visit their house.
Visarjan: Visarjan/ Immersion of the idol on the 11th day brings hundreds of people on road in India. Ganapati who has stayed with you for 10 days will now have to immerse in water as He bids farewell and promises to come back again following year. With teary eyes, it’s hard to bid farewell to a loving guest who’s loved by everyone and it’s now time for Him to go.
The story behind this is: Some people believe, Ganapati accepts the invitation of His devotees to come as a guest and visit their houses and stays with them for few days but as Ananth Chaturdashi approaches, He will have to go and see His mother Parvati (Goddess Parvati), that’s why we immerse him in the water, (ocean/river/ponds).
While some people believe that; Ganapati’s Idol which is built of clay resembles our body which is also made out of clay. His stay with us resembles our presence on earth for some time and then His immersion in water tells that one day with our clay bodies, we will all be immersed in water. It actually reveals the life cycle of us as human.
This Festival has changed and commercialized a lot since Independence. Now the statues are being built by Plaster of Paris (POP) and chemical paints to decorate the idol.
Well in advance, months ago before the festival begins, you can find the statues selling everywhere at Sky rocket prices. Instead of the gesture, it’s become a status symbol, and the richer you are, the bigger the statue and so on.
Well, sometimes it’s hard to resist and choosing one of those statues puts you in dilemma, they all look so good. Some people even pre-order it in advance so they get their favorite idols. Well, choosing the best idol and placing it in your home is not a problem, the problem arises when people try and immerse those heavy duty idols in the ocean/river/lakes/ponds. These POP statues are hazardous to the environment and kill millions of marine animals due to their high chemical residues.
Being a follower, sometimes we just close our eyes and blindly follow what everyone else does, without thinking about the side effects.
See, where we’ve reached, from the clay idols made at home to commercialized POPs. It’s heartbreaking to see those idols half broken and swinging at the beach following morning.
The statue you worshiped yesterday is now touching someone’s feet, would you even care?? What kind of religion is it?? Just because everyone did it, you thought of doing the same thing?
The next day at Juhu beach, India after Ganesha Visarjan
We have been celebrating the Ganesha festival for last 7 years. When we started, we bought a new Idol every year, worshipped and immersed it in the water as followed by the rest. There was a time when we bought a statue which had a wooden base and at the time of Visarjan, it felt so bad to see only wood on top and our beloved Ganapati hanging upside down. It was the same Ganapati we worshiped twice daily for 10 days.
Wait, we still didn’t learn and carried on with the same tradition for another 2-3 years. And once when we bought a beautiful large Ganesha Statue and worshiped him for 10 days. After that, it didn’t feel like immersing Him in the water like we did before, we didn’t let Him go and kept it.
Since then, here in Toronto,every year instead of buying a new statue, we establish beetle nut (Supari) as Ganapati with all mantras and then worship it along with our old Ganapati statue and on the 11th day as per the ritual we immerse the Beetle Nut in a nearby pond. It still feels sad at the farewell but we now know that we’re not harming the environment anymore.
There are multiple links on Youtube to show you how to make your own Ganesha Idols at home with clay or even turmeric. TV has been broadcasting to keep Eco-friendly idols instead of POP. The festival is to celebrate Ganesha’s birthday, to remember the almighty and to introduce the culture to the next generations.
“Jaki Rahi Bhawna Jaisi, Prabhu Murat Dekhi Tin Taisi”. After all, this is all based on faith; choose to be Eco-friendly, you’ll definitely have some peace within you, I promise.
“Ganapati Bappa Moriya, Mangal Murty Moriya”!!!