Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Questioning Rituals...

Today is Ganesh chathurthi. Wishing all a Happy Ganesh Chaturthi.

Outside on the roads I see upteen vehicles and people carrynig Ganesh ji's statue, with loads of people hooting "Ganpati Bapa Moriya". Loud music, loud displays consuming great electricity, long processions.. and in the end the immersion of the statue in water body. Wouldnt immersion of statues cause water pollution and in turn affect the life in the water could we not look at that part.. how could we not look, that the next day volunteers and government servants go crazy cleaning up the mess on the roads and water bodies left the previous day ...

I have never understood the concept of immersing the statue of gods and goddesses in the water bodies..Had tried to inquire a few friends but couldnt get some satisfactory answer. It would be nice if someone could enlignten me on the same...

I also dont know if people following the rituals know the meaning of following them or is it that they are swayed by mass sentiment... Why can't we question our rituals? why can't we question our beliefs? Not that we detest what rituals say but atleast one can find answers and then follow them instead of following them blindly..

Should taking out processions and hooting the slokas ever please God ? it would just add to sentimantalising the society to different religious sects.. No offense against any particular religion..its a general blog trying to question our rituals..

It would be nice to have your views :)


Hitesh said...

I think why we question our rituals is because they have not changed since ages. They were never meant to be changed. The environment changed, thoughts changed, circumstances change; but rituals remained the same.
When a ritual first started, it was never a problem for the people living in that particular era. Also the ritual depended on the person starting it. I say so because I don't think any kind hearted person can start rituals like Sati, Sacrifices of living creatures, etc.

What we need to understand here is what was the purpose of celebrating these festivals publicly. We need to first understand the motive of celebrating fests and secondly our education should help us to celebrate these occasions with an eco-friendly environment.

We know how to do it but we don't (the reason unknown). Awareness is reqd and primarily at the personal level.

Usage of electricity, loud speakers, handling wastes and use of eco friendly materials is all in our hands.....just one question to ask ourselves..why why don't we apply our minds.

Our generation is basically unaware of the motive of these public fests....the future to be is also unaware. Our moral responsibility is to make people aware..thats it.

About the immersion thing.. what I understood is that according to hindu mythology what comes from the soil must return finally to the soil. Hence the idols are immersed in water where they get dissolved and are returned back to the soil.

When it comes to religion, every comment is debatable... the above our my views..pardon me if i uttered anything objectionable.

Jaydip Mehta said...

Sometime before I was also used to wonder about these things .. I was also questioning these rituals and everything .. But than as time passed I understood that everything in life can not be answered .. Everything in life is not logical , not rational ... Than after I just stopped questioning it .. This is my own personnel opinion only ..

Kanan said...

No idea about this one. Would be good to find out though.

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi! :)

chinmai said...

@hitesh : thanks for ur views , but "what comes from the soil must return finally to the soil" actually the idols are immersed into the water.. and not soil..

@jaydip: rite .. the rituals are blend of versions of the actual meaning of wat was intended by the ritual owner or the beginner so the actual meaning may be lost over the generations..
@ kanan : wats up .. long time :) wens the plan to india...

Hitesh said...

hey you have a soil bed beneath the water bed....well you will have to dwell deep into those concepts to understand them.. i don't wish to.. but immersion is a way to return things to the soil

chinmai said...

@hitesh: then why not bury it directly in the soil.. dig pits and bury them .. while in water immersion it affects the water life.. ( which would affect ppl consuming sea food in turn as the sea living beings are also toxicated by consimunbg toxic water)

Hitesh said...

initially the idols were made of POP and also the colours were non harmful...hence it wasn't such an issue then...but nowadays things have changed thats what i am pointing it. Let me be clear.
Immersing clay models does not affect water life at all coz clay will settle at the water bed...also use of natural colors is also not harmful...
Today also some idol makers do make use of these natural materials but not all......

The immersion process is a ritual.nothing wrong with it...why not bury them..well questions are easy to ask coz everything has an exception....

just use natural materials and there is no harm caused......
what question comes to my mind is that the idol for whom we take so much care during these days,, how does it feel to go and drown him in water

Kanan said...

Okay so I read it in the vrat-kathaa book.

The story goes that once (apparantly on bhadarva sud chaturthi) Shri Ganesh ji visited or passed through chandra-lok and Chandra saw him. He was amused to see such a chubby God and made fun of him. Ganpatidada who is usually very calm, lost temper and cursed Chandrama "anyone who sees you on this day will be stigmatized". Chandra realized it then what He had done. He went to all the devtas but they were helpless as this was a curse by the God bigger than them. They couldn't help Him but suggested He pray to him and ask for forgiveness. Chandra did tapasya and requested Shri Ganesh ji to forgive Him. Ganpatidada said that the curse can not be undone but He will tell Him about the counter curse. That "if a person does pooja of Him on this day, wakes up early morning, bathes and prays to Him with modaks/laddu in prasad, and then avoids seeing the Moon, he/she will be free of the stigma attached with this" and part of vidhi states that a statue of any size be made with five metals (panch-dhaatu) [if all five are not available, any one will do] to make this statue, and the devotees are to pray to Lord Ganesh for first four days of bhadrapad maas - padvo, dvitiya, trutiya and chaturthi - and then do visarjan of the statue at the end of these four days in a near by water entity. Shri Krishna is said to have kept this vrat to be free of the stigma associated with this in His times. The story even recommends to avoid looking at the Moon on the day of dvitiya.

I think some of the customs have changed over the centuries but that's the mythological story I read. Hope this helps.

Kanan said...

Chinmai, I just read a couple of comments and saw you were asking abut this one. Burying the idols will pollute/contaminate the land, soil. Wouldn't that hurt the life cycle too?

Jaydip Mehta said...

Too many questions are going on, so thought to this sentence:

શ્રધ્ધાનો હો વિષય તો પુરાવાની શી જરૂર?
કુરાનમાં તો ક્યાંય પયગમ્બરની સહી નથી

chinmai said...

@kanan: thanks for sharing the story.. and the question in line were 1) why rituals 2) why ppl follow rituals blindly 3) why cant we relate things to the present day and be the change agents instead of carrying rituals of which meaning is lost/altered .. 4) can we make do with out rituals and not let the actual meaning oif praying for god lose leaving the pomp and show behind
jaydip : quite true .. shraddha no vishay che... cnat argue much when shraddha comes in picture :)
@hitesh : agreed.. but wen its a mass action we cant go and tell everyone of wat is rite and wat is wrong

Stupidosaur said...

Why should anybody bother to question a ritual when its great fun?

Actually thats waht I read in some essay book when in school. People developed festivals at regular intervals throughout the year so that life does not get suffocating and boring.

(Actually by writing stupid blogs and posting pointless comments on other's blogs, I too am wasting precious energy in generating which earth was harmed. But am I bothered? Nope it fun!)

Anyways I heard this public ganapati pandals and all was not an original religious ceremony, but lokmanya tilak started the public thing to unite people in freedom struggle. You can confirm and tell me.

//Should taking out processions and hooting the slokas ever please God ?

Anyways that is a secondary question, provided God exists.

Now to this you may start arguing about how you beleive God surely exists. Similarly those people will start arguing how they totally beleive hooting and shlokas will please God. Cab you see the futility of 'beliefs' and questioning them?

Let me be clear.
Immersing clay models does not affect water life at all coz clay will settle at the water bed...

There are so many counter arguments hidden in the statement itself
1) As clay will deposit, the water bed will gradually fill up and rise. So if it is a closed water body like pond etc, it will grow shallow.
2) The depositing clay will bury the plant life at bottom of the sea. Further as the water will be agitated and muddy, sunligt may not reach in right amounts so the plants will reduce and die out. From there will begin the crumbling of entire food chain.

Neither you nor I are marine biologists. It did't take me much effort to visualise the above scenario. (Actually the analogy came to me how the eruption of Kraktao or some such big volcano had made skies around the world very dark once upon at time just few decades back. It had damaged crops around the world.)

Actual scholars of water ecology may know many more perils of the immersion.

If we narrow our horizons, its very easy to be smug "Ah nothing is wrong!". But nature's balance is very precarious. And we are messing with it.

Princess said...

I was just going through the discussion & Even i dont know the reason why we immerse God statue in water but i would like to add few more points which i read in some articles:

Nowadays, idols are made from plaster of Paris so that they become light weight and more attractive.
One should prepare the Ganesh idol from china clay or mud. There are references in the Purâns (Mythological texts) that Ganapati was created from grime. Hence it is appropriate to use a Ganesh idol made of mud for ritualistic worship.

Also Plaster of Paris does not dissolve easily in water and hence the idol floats on water after immersion. Sometimes in cities, the remains of idols which have not dissolved in water for a long period are collected and a bulldozer is run over them to convert them into mud. This amounts to extreme denigration of the deity. The deity should be offered the same reverence when immersing it as when it is invoked. Since the idol is not immersed properly, in a way it amounts to dishonouring the deity.

Also the Mixing of the plaster of Paris in water pollutes the river, sea, lake, etc. and can have an adverse effect on the health of living beings.

Nowadays a wrong trend has set in whereby idols are even made from coconuts, bananas, betulnut, silver, coins, etc. Some of these objects do not dissolve in water after immersion of the idol. The remains of such idols are used for other purposes or as toys by children.

-Kavita (from PV)
Hey Chinmai..i hope you remember me :D

chinmai said...

@saur: thanks for ur elaborate comment widout the usual pun language..i second u.
@kavita: hey great to see you here and welcome to this page ..hows things wid u.. did check up wid ur blogs too..