Visarjan
Dispersing Divine Energy

 

Inviting the divine energy is called “avahan”
Worship of the divine energy in a specific form is called “pujan”.
Dispersal of the divine energy is called “visarjan”.

 

Divine energy is invited to preside over most Hindu ceremonies.  As this energy is rather special and precious, a suitable receptacle is provided in the form of a yantra, mantra, pot, coconut or a murti.  Murti, idol, can be made out of sand, clay, earth, organic matter (eg straw, bark or paper), stone or metal.  To help us visualize the appropriate attributes of the deity, such as intelligence, strength, grace etc, the divine receptacle is usually made in the shape or form of the deity being worshiped.  Depending on the requirements of the ceremony and wishes of the worshiper, this energy can be invited to stay for a short or long term in the divine receptacle. 

Worshipping the divine with prayers and mantras creates energy of its own and this naturally gravitates towards the divine receptacle (icon or idol) which already houses divine energy.  Thus the divine icon / idol becomes more “powerful” over time, concentrating and gathering energy from regular worship.  This energy is given out in form of bliss for worshipers who come to pray.   Icons and idols that are regularly worshiped at home or in a temple acquire great energy from being regularly worshiped by devotees over a long period of time. 

When divine force is invited to a puja or a singular ceremony, the visarjan is done soon after the puja is concluded.  Example – Satya Narayan puja or puja of various gods or goddesses during family functions.

When the divine is invited for a festival, lengthy prayers and ceremonies are performed for a number of days.  Visarjan happens after the concluding ceremonies.  Examples – Ganesh puja during monoon and Durga puja during autumn.

When the divine is invited to reside the devotee for a lifetime, visarjan happens after the death of the devotee. 

Divine energy is a powerful force and as such is treated with respect and care.  Hence its dispersal must be carefully thought out.  Most appropriate element to disperse the divine energy often depends on the nature of the divine receptacle (icon) itself.  Usually, water, earth and air are considered safe places to disperse the energy of the divine.  For example, icons or idols made out of clay are often dispersed in large bodies of moving water such as streams, rivers or the sea.  Moving bodies of water are considered more appropriate than stagnant pools or tanks.  Moving water allows the clay icon to dissolve quickly and form part of river mud again.  It also allows the divine energy that had concentrated in the icon to dissipate more freely and quickly, benefiting more people.  Earth is another powerful element and sacred items such as coconuts and flowers from puja ceremony are often left near trees where they can dissipate their energy into the earth.

When a devotee dies, icons they worshiped in their home shrine are usually returned to the guru, ashram, temple or placed in a scared river.  This way the energy of the icon returns to its origin or dissipates in a sacred river.  Temple icons that have become worn out or are damaged are rehoused in another part of the temple, buried in a sacred place or placed in a sacred river.  Icons that are made for specific ceremonies are usually disposed off soon after the ceremony is finished.    

Visarjan of Ganesh icons in Maharastra and Durga icons in West Bengal have recently caused an environment issue as these are now made of non-biodegradable material such as plaster-of-paris and are painted with industrial paints that do not decompose.  Water pollution is a real issue needs to be taken care of by reverting back to using natural, biodegradable materials for making these icon.   

 

Here are a couple of other links for visarjan
1) Visarjan 2
2) Repair or replace icons?

 

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