TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21: It’s the final day of Ganesh Chaturdashi today, and many Hindus will be removing the images of Lord Ganesha from their homes and areas throughout the community to immerse them in bodies of water. Hindus believe that Lord Ganesha descends to Earth during Ganesh Chaturdashi, and so today, on Anant Chaturdashi, they “send him back.” (Wikipedia has details.) The idol immersion is so popular, in fact, that the president of the Brihanmumbai organization of Ganesh mandals in India said that more than 12,000 Ganesh associations have been registered this year! (This Ganesh number is up by 2,000 more than last year. Read the article here.) Through the town markets, and on their way to a river or seashore, Hindus dance gaily, sing aloud and form processions—all in the name of the elephant-headed deity.
Today is a dual day for some Hindus, because some also worship Lord Anant—or Lord Vishnu—to reacquire lost wealth and feel relief from sorrows. (Typically, those who do observe this do so for 14 years. Read more at Festivals in India.) It’s believed that Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of Anantapadmanabha on this day many years ago, and devotees of Lord Vishnu observe a fast in commemoration. After puja, many devotees also perform Ananta Dharam, a ritual that involves tying a sacred thread with knots and then tying a bracelet onto devotees. Depending on the tradition, the number “14” usually has significance, too, whether the bracelet is tied with 14 threads or into 14 knots.