Why do we immerse Ganesh in water?

The History

Ganesh Chaturthi is the celebration of Ganesh's birthday. It's a 10 day long festival, marked by prayers, religious ceremonies, and large processions which ultimately culminates to a Visarjan on the last day. This year, the Visarjan falls on September 9th.

"Visarjan" = to respectfully lay a deity to rest, also means, immersion

Once upon a time...

In 1892 (around the time most of our GREAT grandparents were born), there was a man named Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

He was an Indian nationalist, and the first leader of the Indian Independence Movement. The British colonial authorities called him "The Father of the Indian unrest."

He's also credited as the architect of present day Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations.

Tilak saw the need to further unite Indians against the ruling English party, and realized nothing can bond people more than a common idol, equally worshiped by all.

He noticed that Lord Ganesh was considered "the God for everyman," worshipped by the rich and poor, leaders and followers alike.
A "crowd favorite," if you will.

The First Celebration

In 1892, Tilak organized the first Ganesh Utsav as a social and religious function in the streets of Pune and Mumbai. It was he who turned a rate intimate celebration into a grand 10 day spectacle.

Not surprisingly, he's also the man behind the tradition of immersing the huge Ganesh statues in a body of water, on the tenth day of the festival.

What is Visarjan?

At the beginning of the festival, devotees place a new Ganesh idol made of perishable materials like clay, paper pulp, lime paste, or other materials around the house.

On the last day of Ganesh Chaturthi, the people then practice Visarjan, directly translating to immersion. Just as Ganesh's mother, Goddess Parvati created him out of clay, his symbolic statue is as well.

Why is this done?

It is believed that the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi also denotes the significance of the cycle of birth, life and death.

In addition to this, Ganesh is worshipped as the "remover of obstacles."

With the immersion of the idol, it is believed Ganesh is returned to the celestial realm. In addition, it also takes away the various obstacles of the house.

Modern-Day Changes

Nowadays, there have been rising concerns of pollution when immersing the idols in running water.

As a result, some towns have been implementing artificial bodies of water for the immersions. In addition they have encouraged more eco-friendly idols and performing the ceremony at home.

How do you pick an idol?

Does the direction of Ganesh's trunk matter?

The short answer is yes, the direction of the trunk has multiple meanings. The symbolism of Ganesh's trunk is:

Wisdom & Intelligence: the power of discrimination, which is essential for making the right choices

Adaptability: trunk is a versatile organ that can perform a variety of tasks, such as lifting and carrying objects

Destroyer of Obstacles: the trunk has the power to uproot obstacles and clear the way for success and prosperity

Symbol of “Om”: The curve of the trunk is sometimes said to resemble the Aum symbol

Blessings & Protection: The trunk is often seen in a raised position, symbolizing blessings

Modesty: In depictions showing his trunk covering the mouth, represent practicing controlling speech.

What is the meaning of the direction Ganesh's trunk is facing?

Left-facing trunk:

Known as Vamamukhi Commonly found in homes Brings peace and prosperity Somestimes associated with moksha (liberation) and spiritual growth Known to purify vastu doshas (imbalance of energies)

Right-facing trunk: 

Known as Siddhi Vinayaka (“bestower of boons) Mostly found in temples because the idol needs to be worshipped according to strict Vedic customs The fiery nature can give you quick results or destroy everything (if the idol is uncard for)

Front-facing trunk:

Rarest of the three directions Represents the Sushumna Nadi, which runs along the spinal cord Symbolizes a healthy mental and physical balance

 Other things to look for in a Ganesh idol:

Sitting vs Standing: Sitting position signifies Ganesh is here to stay

Upward vs Inward: An upward facing trunk denotes well-being

Proximity: The closer the trunk to the modak, the more readily Ganesh can share




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Modi Toys is a children's brand of toys and books inspired by ancient Hindu culture. We exist to spread joy and to spark curiosity in the next generation through our innovative soft plush toys, illustrated children's books and free learning resources. Our weekly Theology Thursday series covers a wide range of topics rooted in Hinduism to help us better understand the origins of traditions, the symbolic meaning of rituals, and the stories behind Hindu holidays and festivals. The more we can understand "the why" behind this 4,000 year ancient religion, and make sense of it in this modern age, the greater we can appreciate and preserve our rich Hindu culture. While we take great care in thoroughly researching the information presented, we may occasionally get some things wrong. We encourage a healthy and open dialogue so we can learn together. Please leave a comment below or email us directly at support@moditoys.com to address any concerns. 


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