Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayak Chaturthi or more popularly known as Ganeshotsav is a 10-day festival celebrated to commemorate the birth of Lord Ganesha. It is one of the major festivals of the followers of Hinduism. People wait for it throughout the year and it is celebrated with much enthusiasm not just in all parts of India but in many other South Asian countries as well. Every year Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on the fourth day, i.e, Chaturti in the month of Bhadrapada of the Shukla Paksha or the bright phase of the lunar month.
Lord Ganesha is the younger son of the God Shiva and the Goddess Parvati. He is considered the Remover of obstacles, that’s why he is also known as Vighnaharta. Worshiping Lord Ganesh at the start of anything new is considered auspicious. He is the God of New beginnings, the reason why people worship Lord Ganesha before starting anything new in their life.
The ten-day celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi involves a lot of preparation and major events. People start preparing their homes by cleaning even before the start of the puja to bring Lord Ganesh home, i.e, the idol of Lord Ganesh and performing Pranapratestha. The love and adoration of people for Ganpati Bappa are second to none. People Worship Lord Ganesha in 16 different ways which are also called Shhodashopachara. There are basically Four major events in the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi, namely Pran Pratishtha, Shhodashopachara, Uttarpuja, and Ganpati Visarjan.
Each and every ritual has its meaning and it is done for a specific reason in a certain way. Ganesh Visarjan is no different. The Sanskrit word “Visarjan” has plenty of meanings but in the context of religious worship rituals, it refers to the act of respectfully laying the idol used for worship to rest. In the Ganesh Visarjan, the idol of Lord Ganesh is immersed in the water body. The idol used for worship during the period of Ganesh Chaturthi is seen as a temporary vessel. Once the period of worship is over, the idol is the soul seeking salvation. The water body is considered to be infinite just like God. That’s why the idol is immersed in a water body. It is done to mark the beginning of Lord Ganesha’s journey to his heavenly home.
The Visarjan symbolizes the cycle of life which is birth and death. It celebrates the reality of life and the facts surrounding it. The act of Visarjan epitomizes destruction and the fickle, i.e, momentary nature of life itself. The idol of Ganesha is only an inanimate object. It is the love and devotion of the masses that transforms mere clay into something that possesses spiritual powers. And then when the time comes, it is returned to nature. Similarly, we are made up of only flesh and bones, animated by the power of our souls. This body too, will one day return to nature.
The Visarjan also symbolizes the concept of Niraakar, i.e, God does not have a form. God is omnipresent. He neither arrives nor leaves. Tye Visarjan is just a way for us to understand that he has existed before time and will exist beyond as well. The act of Visarjan teaches us to let go of things that we hold near and dear in our lives just as we love Lord Ganesha as it is a natural part of life. It teaches us, detachment. It makes us reflect that we arrive here, we celebrate and then one day we also have to leave.