Ganesha Visarjan: the immersion ceremony

6 September 2003 — Amritapuri


Amidst the rousing melodies of a nadaswaram and takil, the Sri Ganesha Murthi which has received daily worship in the Kalari for over a week was brought to the base of the temple steps this evening. There the crowds gathered for this final ceremony of the Ganesha Chaturthi Festival to join in honor of the beloved Remover of Obstacles, as the ashram pujaris offered fruits and flowers, incense and the arati flame. Even Ram, the ashram elephant who just 7 days earlier received our worship as the embodiment of Ganesha, was on hand with a trunkful of fresh green bamboo stalks.

Many people made coin offerings to Ganesha before waving a coconut around their head three times and offering it at His feet, seeking His blessings. After bhajans and arati were performed, Sri Ganesha was carefully lifted onto his chariot. With the musicians leading the way, He was taken to Amma’s parents’ house, where they reverently offered the arati flame as well.

Ganesha procession in Amritapuri

Ganesha was then led in a procession across the ashram grounds, and out through the back gate toward the ocean. There were many schoolchildren on hand today as well, due to the holiday weekend, and the innocence and enthusiasm of the bhajans that they sang the entire way added greatly to the celebratory spirit. Overflowing onto the road that runs along the beach, hundreds of devotees accompanied Ganesha, and the local residents that live along the way all came out to receive His darshan as He passed by.

Ganesha statue being merged into the ocean

Finally, the procession arrived at the chosen spot on the beach, and Ganesha was brought to the tide’s edge. About 20 men joined in and braved the waves, carrying Ganesha into the Arabian Sea, where He was to become one with Her. This immersion ceremony symbolises the form (physical existence) returning to the Formless (spiritual existence). Its purpose is to teach that all forms of God, including human beings, have both their beginning and end in the one Formless Absolute. In this light, the worship of God’s form actually serves as a bridge, helping us to reach that state of Infinite Awareness. Just as Ganesha today merged with Mother Ocean, so too is our consciousness destined to merge into the Ocean of Supreme Consciousness.

This is why for Her devotees, Amma, being the embodiment of this Supreme Consciousness, is naturally both our beginning and our end.