Immersion of Ganesh
|Observed by||Religiously by Hindus and Jains. Other Indians celebrate the cultural aspects.|
|Type||Religious, Indian subcontinent|
|Observances||Ganapati Visarjana, Wearing Sacred Silk Thread (Ananta), Prayers, Religious rituals (see puja, prashad)|
|Date||Bhadrapad Shukla Chaturdashi|
|2017 date||5 September|
|2018 date||23 September|
|2019 date||12 September|
|2020 date||1 September|
Anant Chaturdashi is a festival observed and celebrated by Jain and Hindus. Chaturdashi is the 14th day of the lunar fortnight. In the normal course, Anant Chaturdashi falls 10 days after Ganesh Chaturthi.
Jain religious observance
This is an important day in the Jain calendar of festivities. Digambara Jains observe Paryushana in the last 10 days of the bhado month, Anant Chaturdashi (also known as Anant Chaudas) is the last day of Paryushana. Kshamavani, the day the Jains ask for forgiveness for mistakes they have made intentionally or otherwise, is observed one day after Anant Chaturdashi. This is the day when Lord Vasupujya, 12th Tirthankara of the present cosmic cycle, attained nirvana.
Hindu religious observance
Anant Chaturdashi is the last day of the Hindu festival of Ganeshotsav. It is generally the 10th or 11th day after Ganesh Chaturthi. All the Ganesh deities brought into homes and communities are immersed in the sea or nearby lakes and rivers. On this day, people travel to waterfronts with the idols dancing and singing in large processions. Lord Ganesha is departed, only to be welcomed the next year with equal excitement.
In parts of Bihar and Eastern U.P., the festival is closely linked to kshirsagar (Ocean of Milk) and Lord Vishnu's Anant Roopa. Fourteen tilaks (small vertical strips) of vermilion are made on a wooden plank. Fourteen puri (fried wheat bread) and 14 pua (deep fried sweet wheat bread) are placed on the vermilion strips. A bowl containing panchamrit (made of milk, curd, jaggery, honey and ghee) symbolizing kshirsagar is placed on this wooden plank. A thread with 14 knots, symbolizing Lord Anant is wrapped on a cucumber and is swirled five times in this "Ocean of Milk". Later this Anant thread is tied on the right arm above the elbow by men. Women tie this on their left arm. This Anant thread is removed after 14 days.
The story behind the festival
- Sushila and Kaundinya
There was a Brahmin named Sumant. With his wife Diksha, he had a daughter named Sushila. After the death of Diksha, Sumant married Karkash, who gave a lot of trouble to Sushila.
Sushila married Kaundinya, and they decided to leave the house to avoid the harassment of the stepmother. On the way, they stopped near a river. Kaundinya went to take bath. Sushila joined a group of women who were worshiping. They told Sushila that they were worshiping "Anant". "What kind of worship is this?" Sushila asked.
- Anant's vow
They told her that it was Anant's vow. They explained its importance and ritual. Some fried "gharga" (made of flour) and "anarase" (special food) are prepared. Half of them have to be given to the Brahmins. A cobra made of "darbha" (sacred grass) is put in a bamboo basket. Then the snake ("shesh") is worshiped with scented flowers, oil lamp, and incense sticks. Food is offered to the snake. A silk string is kept before the God and tied to the wrist. This string is called "anant." It has 14 knots and is coloured with "kumkum." Women tie the "anant" on their left hand and men on their right. The purpose of this vow is to obtain divinity and wealth. It is kept for 14 years.
After listening to this explanation Sushila decided to take the Anant vow. From that day she and Kaundinya began to prosper and became very rich. One day Kaundinya noticed the Anant string on Sushila's left hand. When he heard the story of the Anant vow, he was displeased and maintained that they had become rich, not because of any power of Anant, but because of the wisdom he had acquired by his own efforts. A heated argument followed. At the end Kaundinya took the Anant string from Sushila's hand and threw it into the fire.
After this all sorts of calamities happened in their life, and they were reduced to extreme poverty. Kaundinya understood that it was punishment for having dishonoured "Anant" and decided that he would undergo rigorous penance until God appeared to him.
- In search of Anant
Kaundinya went into the forest. There he saw a tree full of mangoes, but no one was eating them. The entire tree was attacked by worms. He asked the tree if he had seen Anant but got a negative reply. Then Kaundinya saw a cow with her calf, then a bull standing on a field of grass without eating it. Then he saw two big lakes joined to each other with their waters mixing with one another. Further, he saw a donkey and an elephant. To every one, Kaundinya asked about Anant, but no one had heard this name. He became desperate and prepared a rope to hang himself.
Then suddenly an old, venerable Brahmin appeared before him. He removed the rope from Kaundinya's neck and led him into a cave. At first, it was very dark. But then a bright light appeared and they reached a big palace. A great assembly of men and women had gathered. The old Brahmin went straight towards the throne.
Kaundinya could no longer see the Brahmin but only Vishnu instead. Kaundinya realized that Vishnu himself had come to save him and that Vishnu was Anant, the Eternal One. He confessed his sin in failing to recognize the Eternal in the string on Sushila's hand. Anant promised Kaundinya that if he made the 14-year vow, he would be free from all his sins and would obtain wealth, children, and happiness. Anant disclosed the meaning of what Kaundinya had seen during the search. Anant explained that the mango tree was a Brahmin, who in a previous life had acquired plenty of knowledge, but had not communicated it to anyone.
The cow was the earth, which at the beginning had eaten all the seeds of plants. The bull was religion itself. Now he was standing on a field of green grass. The two lakes were sisters who loved each other very much, but all their alms were spent on each other only. The donkey was cruelty and anger. Finally, the elephant was Kaundinya's pride.