Friday, September 9, 2011

Complete Immersion

Monday evening I was immersed tonight by a wonderful family in Maharashtra Hindu traditions.  I had the priviledge of returning to Sanjana's family's home for their Ganesh Chaturthi immersion.
Barbara, Andrea and I arrived to their apartment around 5 p.m. where their family had been caring for Ganesh during his visit as an honored guest in their home.  Ganesha received the same TLC you would give any friend or family visiting you.

We were greeted at the door with hugs and smiles.  They were sitting around chatting with a couple of other visitors.  It was nice to relax and share about ASB and eat more delicious food.

Then just before 6 p.m., the priest arrived for final prayers at their home.  The prayers are called pujas.  Prayers were sang, incense was burned, tilaks were applied to foreheads for blessings.  Blades of grass, flowers and coins were all offered to Ganesha.
The pujas begin.

During the prayers, not only did her 5-year-old nephew help with the pujas but Sanjana was able to watch in NYC using Skype.  We also received blessings, tilaks, (red paste on our foreheads) and we gave further blessings by turning a flame round in circles several times in front of Ganesha.

After the priest and family finished their prayers, the celebration began.
Setting up Skype for the celebration
The family moved their statue to the floor so we were able to dance around it and celebrate Ganesha's removal of obstacles.  The family played cds that taught us how to wish good tidings to Lord Ganesha by saying "Ganpati Bappa Morya!"

We sang and danced for a while.  Before we'd sung and danced, Sanjana's grandmother, who speaks a bit of English, asked me if I was married.  I told her no I wasn't and neither was Andrea.  She kept repeating the word husband to me.  After we sang and danced a while, I realized why.

You are able to wish for Ganesha to remove an obstacle for you.  When Sanjana's mother told me we could whisper into Ganesha's ear and ask for what we needed, I suddenly put two and two together. Grandmother had told me to wish for a husband! I did whisper into his ear but I'm not sharing my wishes with you all. Sorry!
Ganesha's ears are large so he's able to hear your hopes.
Then we went downstairs to load Ganesha into a car for his journey to the sea.  By going to the ocean, his physical form, which the family had prayed to, would leave its energy behind but since physically, we're all in a state of change, would revert back to nothingness.

We drove in two cars to Juhu beach playing music along the way.  As we drove, we carefully followed Ganesha who was in the back of the car in front of us.  The trunk had been left open. 

Along the way we passed processions with bands and cars carrying their family's or community's or political group's Ganesha.  When we arrived, we quickly unloaded both cars and Ganesh was carried to the beach.
Carrying Ganesha to Juhu beach.

When we arrived to the beach, I saw we weren't the only ones there.

Sanjana's family prepared for their final pujas.  Incense was placed into the sand. 

The flame was lit on their silvter tray.  Several prayers were sung using a book and flowers were offered as well.  During the pujas we also each were given a modak (an indian sweet) to eat. 

We whispered final wishes to Ganesha, offered our blessings using fire once again and then ended by silently standing and showing him our respect.

After the pujas ended, Sanjana's brother and cousin took Ganesha to the sea for his immersion. 

Carrying Ganesha into the sea.

Family watching the immersion.
This wonderful evening came to a quiet close.  We walked back up the beach and toward the crowds again.  We crossed the street and said our goodbyes.  Thanks so much to Sanjana for the special invitation.   Also thank you to her family for a very special celebration.  They would tell me that I should thank Ganesha for bringing us together.  A final thanks to Ganesha for sharing your special days with me, welcoming me into Sanjana's family's home and for removing my obstacles.

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