September 5, 2008 – Ganesha Idols Immersion Ceremony
Teachers’ day was welcomed by most of the residents of the Sri Sathya Sai Institutions like one would do for the New Year's Day - by keeping awake throughout the night! Swami had notified everyone that Ganesha Idols immersion - an event of great significance in the Indian annual calendar would take place on September 5th afternoon. The act of taking the clay idol of Lord Ganesha to the nearby water body and immersing Him in it has a great spiritual meaning. The clay idol is symbolic of the human body composed of the five elements. It should spend time on the earth in a manner that it is worshipped! After its adorable stay on the earth, it finally merges back with the elements. Though the idol is gone, Ganesha lives forever! And that story is the same for the true being, the soul, too. It is in this spirit and fervour that the immersion is celebrated all over India, more so in Puttaparthi. And everyone is fully immersed in making either chariots or palanquins for carrying the sweet elephant Lord Ganesha!
At about 3:00 p.m., all the chariots from the school, Institute and the various institutions were all lined up along the main road at Puttaparthi and what an impressive sight it was! The procession began with the singing of bhajans, enthusiastic rhythms of the chants and the musical beats of the drums. The beeline towards the Mandir was ready and it began.
As the chariots entered the Mandir, they were led to the bays that had been earmarked for them to park. Soon the entire array was ready and it was truly a glorious scene! The Mandir resembled a cosmic battlefield where the Lord pervaded all the chariots! To add to this was a contingent of little Ganeshas from primary school waiting in front of Swami's residence along with the nadaswaram and the Veda chanting contingents. There was a peacock chariot and another one that had the Golden eagle. A palanquin and a chariot had been inspired by Adi Sesha, the serpent which forms the bed for Lord Vishnu, and they were designed like that of the divine serpent. There was a "Harry Potter" cup inside which Ganesha stood as the prize; a huge Hibiscus flower had Ganesha as its centre; there were more - a castle, a mountain, and many more designs. An elephant with Ganesha seated atop in the howdah also paraded in the procession. A "navaratna ring" chariot too was present and there were chariots from the indoor stadium and from the Sri Sathya Sai Airport too.
It was about 4:00 p.m. when Swami came out for the darshan rounds. A little "Ganesha" immediately moved forward to his "father" and offered a rose and that instantly brought a sweet smile on Swami's face. He asked for the procession to begin as He sat watching it from the front of Yajur Mandir. Representative members of each group that had gathered there went forward to Swami and offered flowers before embarking and joining the procession. The procession entered the Sai Kulwant Hall and so did Swami moving slowly behind the procession. He went past each and every chariot, and as He went by, there were people holding out fruits and various articles of worship. Very patiently, Swami blessed each of them and looked at the chariots. He went for a full round looking at and appreciating the creativity and devotion embodied in the vehicles for Lord Ganesha. He then came and sat on the stage. As part of the programme, a dance on the glories of Ganesha had been organised. The children from the school did a wonderful job and there was a loud round of applause for all of them. As they concluded, Swami called the warden and blessed everyone to go around for the pradakshina.
There is a very famous story of how Ganesha went around Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati and claimed that He had circumambulated the entire universe. When questioned, He simply replied that his parents were the Universe for Him. In that similar manner, all the students and staff went around Swami and the Mandir. After that, each chariot was brought in front of Swami as the announcers introduced them and explained the significance of the different vehicles. Many boys tried to come in front to get Swami bless their trays of fruits, flowers, cards, small Ganesha idols, etc. But Swami told all of them to stay back. As there were more than 150 people with various objects to be blessed by Swami, if Swami personally was to bless every little thing, it would have simply taken too much time and effort. Apart from the schedule going haywire, it would also have caused lot of physical strain to Swami.
Sometimes, people in such situations wonder “what wrong did we do that Swami kept us physically away”. Here, a small thought will help. A few years ago, after Swami came out of the operations, He said, "This body is for all of you only! Treat it as you want, I am not in the least attached to it." And now the body that Swami was referring to will soon complete 83 years. Since then, like a candle that burns itself down to spread light and warmth, Swami has been just going on and on. We devotees are many times very unfair towards Him! We want Him to feel our joys and pains, but do not spend time to think about His! We brush it away saying, "Oh, No problem! He is the Lord!" If we truly feel and believe that, then it is only appropriate that we accept everything He does. But on the other hand, we want Him to keep smiling always and keep reassuring us like an ordinary human does. So, when it comes to Him thinking and feeling for us, we think in a human fashion, and want Him to respond in a human manner, but when it comes to us thinking and feeling for Him, we shrug away all responsibilities and say “He is Divine”. The programmes that are staged in His presence are increasing exponentially and Swami sits through all of them. Everyday in Puttaparthi has become a festival! And all this does put a lot of strain on His physical body. But because He is constantly thinking of the joy and happiness of everyone all the time, He never for a moment spares time or cares for His own body. But it is our responsibility to at least think of His comfort when He thinks, says and does everything for us. And maybe we can start doing that for Him by not rushing and falling over Him. And maybe by ensuring that when we put up programmes for Him, we keep it short and sweet, and maintain discipline at the end of the performance when He showers all His Love and Grace on the participants.
Returning to the Ganesha Immersion ceremony, the chariots slowly made their way to their final destination as Swami very lovingly blessed each and every chariot with Abhayahastha. Strains of "Jai Bolo Sai Baba Ki" and "Jai Bolo Ganesh Maharaj Ki" filled the air. The whole atmosphere was one of enthusiasm and energy. Swami sat viewing till the entire procession moved past Him. As it left the Mandir, Swami went into the Bhajan Hall. There, He interacted very lovingly with one of the students for quite some time and materialized a gold chain for him. Spending time speaking to him, Swami then asked for bhajans to begin. Bhajans went on for about 40 minutes after which Swami received aarthi and left to Yajur Mandir. Again, there too were students who offered roses of gratitude to Him. Swami accepted all of them and blessed the students before retiring for the day.
- Heart2Heart Team
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