Murtis, or sacred idols, play a central role in the festivals celebrated during Sawan, deepening the spiritual significance of these occasions and fostering a profound connection between devotees and the divine. These festivals, dedicated to various Hindu deities, are marked by elaborate rituals, worship, and reverence towards the murtis. In this discussion, we will explore how murtis are installed, worshipped, and immersed during Sawan festivals, marking the culmination of the festivities and the cycle of devotion.
- Murti Installation: The installation of murtis is a crucial aspect of Sawan festivals. It involves a series of rituals to consecrate the idol and invite the divine presence into it. The process begins with selecting the appropriate materials for the murti, often made of clay, metal, or stone, depending on the tradition and the deity being worshipped.
a. Prana Pratishtha: This is the ritual of infusing life force (prana) into the murti. A consecrated priest, known as a Purohit or Brahmin, performs the Prana Pratishtha ceremony. Through sacred mantras and rituals, the priest invokes the energy of the deity and transfers it into the murti, making it a living representation of the divine.
b. Sthapana: After the Prana Pratishtha, the murti is placed on a pedestal or within a specially prepared shrine. The shrine is decorated with flowers, garlands, and other auspicious items, creating a sacred space for the deity’s presence.
c. Chants and Offerings: Throughout the installation process, devotional chants, bhajans, and prayers are recited to invoke the blessings of the deity. Offerings of fruits, sweets, incense, and lamps are made as a sign of reverence and devotion.
- Murti Worship: Worshiping the murti is the central aspect of Sawan festivals. It involves a variety of rituals, ceremonies, and acts of devotion that connect the devotee with the divine presence represented by the idol. The worship process varies depending on the specific festival and the deity being venerated.
a. Daily Puja: Devotees perform daily puja (worship) to the murti during Sawan. This involves offering prayers, lighting incense, and presenting flowers and fruits to the deity. The act of puja is a deeply personal and spiritual practice that allows devotees to express their love, gratitude, and reverence towards the divine.
b. Abhishekam: Abhishekam is a ceremonial bathing of the murti with various substances like milk, honey, water, ghee, and sandalwood paste. This ritual symbolizes the purification of the soul and the showering of blessings from the deity.
c. Aarti: Aarti is a ritual of waving a lamp with a lighted wick in front of the murti in a circular motion. The light from the lamp represents the dispelling of darkness and ignorance, and the circular motion signifies the all-pervading nature of the divine.
d. Bhajans and Kirtans: During Sawan festivals, devotional songs, bhajans, and kirtans are sung to praise the deity and seek their blessings. These musical expressions of devotion create a spiritually charged atmosphere, elevating the devotees’ connection with the divine.
- Immersion (Visarjan) of Murtis: The culmination of the Sawan festivals often involves the immersion of the murtis, marking the end of the festivities and the cycle of devotion. Immersion rituals differ based on the specific festival and its regional customs.
a. Ganesh Chaturthi: Celebrated in honor of Lord Ganesha, the festival concludes with the immersion of the murtis in water bodies, symbolizing the return of Lord Ganesha to his divine abode.
b. Durga Puja (Navratri/Durga Puja): After nine days of worshiping Goddess Durga, the murti is taken in grand processions and immersed in rivers or lakes, signifying the return of the goddess to her celestial abode.
c. Ananta Chaturdashi: This festival marks the immersion of Lord Ganesha’s murtis after ten days of worship, accompanied by vibrant processions and devotional fervor.
d. Janmashtami: Celebrated as the birth of Lord Krishna, the festival includes the installation of baby Krishna murtis. On the second day of the celebrations, devotees perform a symbolic enactment of Lord Krishna’s life and immerse the murtis in water at midnight.
e. Other Festivals: In other Sawan festivals like Teej, the murti of Goddess Parvati is worshipped with great reverence and later immersed in water bodies.
- Significance of Immersion: The immersion of murtis holds profound symbolism in Sawan festivals. It represents the cyclical nature of life, reminding devotees of the impermanence of the physical form while emphasizing the eternal nature of the divine. By immersing the murti, devotees bid farewell to the physical representation of the deity, carrying the divine blessings in their hearts and minds.
- Environmental Considerations: In recent times, the immersion of murtis has raised concerns about environmental impact, especially when idols are made of non-biodegradable materials. To address this, eco-friendly murtis made from natural materials that dissolve in water have gained popularity, ensuring a more sustainable and eco-conscious approach to celebrations.
In conclusion, murtis play a central and vital role in the festivals celebrated during Sawan, infusing these occasions with deep spiritual meaning and connecting devotees with the divine. The installation of murtis brings the divine presence to life, while the worship rituals deepen the bond between devotees and the deities. Finally, the immersion of murtis signifies the culmination of the festivities and serves as a reminder of the eternal nature of the divine amidst the impermanence of the physical world. Through these rituals, Sawan festivals continue to be a source of spiritual enrichment, cultural celebration, and devotion for millions of devotees across the Hindu community.