When 2000 Giant Ganesha Idols are Immersed in the Sea

My Indian friends who grew up nearby tell me it wasn’t always like this.  They say when they were growing up, during the festival Ganesh Chaturthi, they would have a small clay statue of Lord Ganesha, one of Hinduism’s most important deities, which would be dissolved in a pond or a container of water at the end of the festival.

Nowadays in some parts of India like Chennai, the statues can be several meters of height – one has measured as tall as 70 feet!  After being on display for worship in their communities throughout the 10-day festival, they will be brought, amid much fanfare, to the sea for immersion.


Participants in the immersion reach for a cable suspended from a crane, which will swing the idol out to sea

The sheer number of these idols moving through a city like Chennai and the traffic congestion and environmental concerns they cause, has resulted in the city implementing regulations to ensure the process is orderly, safe, and not overly destructive to the environment.  Ganeshas must comply with certain guidelines, be registered, and immersion must take place at a handful of specially designated points.

This is a rare “100% biodegradeable” Ganesha – its owners proudly explained that it is entirely made of materials like coconut shells.

It is difficult to capture the energy and excitement that surrounds this annual event, but I was determined to give it a try.  Last September.  And then the SD card with all the footage went missing for months and months.  And then I had to find the time to put it all together.  That’s where four days of being sidelined by kidney stones came into the picture.

You probably didn’t notice the introduction with the colorful letters – but that was a separate project I had done a few weeks ago, just to see if it was possible.  Would you believe I used a knife to carve the letters (backward) on pieces of potato, and then used craft paints to stamp the letters onto the floor?

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