I mentioned Ganesh’s Birthday celebrations earlier, but I hadn’t actually witnessed the immersion of the idol. The other night, driving home from dinner, we saw festivities at a tank and stopped to check it out.
The tank — a man made pool — was lit with flood lights. A crane hoisted a platform over the center of the tank. The platform held clay Ganesh figures of various sizes (from about a foot tall to larger-than-human size) and a few men. The men were there to throw the idols into the tank. The crowd standing around the perimeter cheered each time a Ganesh was immersed. They saved the biggest idols for last — and they got the biggest cheers.
As I understand it, the idea behind the immersion is that the clay dissolves in a representative cycle of rebirth, as Ganesh was formed of clay (or sandalwood dust) by his mom. The never-ending rebirth cycle, taking form and becoming become formless again.
PS What may appear to be trash in the water is actually the remains of the other Ganesh idols that were immersed earlier in the birthday season.