August 25, 2009 – The Festival of Ganesha Immersion

The Ganesha Chaturthi festival has profound inner significance in every aspect. And the immersion ceremony is no exception. The clay idol of Lord Ganesha that had become another member in the household is worshipped and immersed in a water resource. That is indicative of the reality of the human body that is composed of the five elements. "From the elements it has come and to the elements will it return." But the spirit lives on forever just as Vinayaka Chaturthi is celebrated year after year! And August 25 was the day designated for the immersion ceremony after Ganesha Chaturthi.

The Ganesha idols worshipped over the last three days in the various institutions at Prasanthi Nilayam were brought in richly decorated and imaginatively designed "chariots" to the Sai Kulwant Hall in a procession at 4.15 p.m. The beauty and grandeur of the various chariots in procession to the hall and their final parking in waiting for the Lord's arrival are best captured in the following images.

There was a heavy downpour from the heavens and the intermittent drizzle was on. But that did not deter the "chariot pullers" and "palanquin bearers" as they brought their Lord Ganesha to the Mandir.

Shortly before 5 p.m., Swami arrived. He was received at Yajur Mandir by a procession of little Ganeshas from the Primary school and the Vedam group with the Poornakumbham.

Swami entered the Sai Kulwant Hall and moved past the magnificent array of chariots. He blessed them and the 'makers' too with His benediction and smiles. Many brought forward plates with prasadam and fruits which Swami blessed. Take a look at the sweet interactions that Swami had with the boys in this little video clip




It took about 20 minutes for Swami to move past all the chariots and arrive on stage. He seemed intent on the proceedings to begin. One could also catch a hint that maybe He wanted to speak to all His children too! He asked for the proceedings to begin immediately. The warden asked Swami whether a small programme that had been planned could be put up and Swami agreed.

The first presentation for the evening was an entertaining dance by the University students. Starting off in a purely Carnatic style, “Maha Ganapathim Manasa Smarami”, the song moved through the beats of rock, reggae and roll with a beautiful blend of chords and ragas. The dance was well choreographed and Swami seemed a little amused at it.

The next was another dance, a little more sober and done by the children from the Higher Secondary School. A cute kid from the 8th class was at the lead and Swami smiled so sweetly at his performance. Watch a part of this dance in the video below.




Then, began the procession of the chariots. There was a continuous commentary that introduced the different chariots. As the decorated vehicles were all coming to the front, Swami blessed them. Swami was very appreciative of the efforts that had been put in making the chariots.

Swami was very appreciative of the efforts that had been put in making the chariots. He however seemed to have a complaint too. As the commentary went on, He said, "There is no Vadyam or bhajans going on. All are silently walking." It was conveyed to Him that since the commentary was on, the boys would start singing once they went out of the gates. But Swami did not seem to be satisfied with the reply. As one student rushed to convey Swami's apparent 'displeasure', Swami called him back and said, "Do bhajans here."




And so it was that bhajans began and needless to say everyone participated vociferously in it. Meanwhile two students dressed as Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha came to Swami and offered their salutations to Him. Swami blessed them and then they moved back to their seats.

Swami sat for more than 45 minutes. Like a mother, He was waiting for His children to return. He kept asking as to where the children were and when they would return. Swami was "assured" that the students would all be returning soon. And five minutes later, the students started streaming in. Swami kept seeing them and as the hall began to fill up, He seemed to rejoice. When He felt that the hall was fairly full and the children had all returned, He said, "Now distribute the prasadam." It was a beautiful and touching scene as Swami ensured that all had returned and had prasadam. When finally the aarthi was performed, Swami's joy became apparent as He raised both His hands in blessings to the congregation. It was 7 p.m. when He returned to His residence.

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