Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Ganga Dassehra on Ganga Ghats.

Celebrating the reincarnation of River Ganga on Earth is Ganga Dassehra which is celebrated on the first 10 days of the ‘Jyeshtha’ month which falls in the months of May-June. According to Hindu Mythology, Goddess Ganga descending on earth is a festival that is observed as ‘Ganga Dassehra’, ‘Ganga Saptami’ and ‘Akshaya Tritiya’ in different parts of India.
Upon performing intense austerities by King Bhagirath, Goddess Ganga descended onto earth in the form of River Ganga in order to relieve the sins of King Bhagirath’s family. Since then it is a strong belief among Hindus that in order to cleanse oneself of his sins he would have to take a Holy-dip in River Ganga each year especially on Ganga Dassehra.
During these 10 days, River Ganga is venerated by the Hindus as Goddess Ganga through numerous pujas, prayers, rituals and ceremonies. The ‘Aarti of River Ganga’ performed by the Haridwar Priests at twilight while standing on the steps of the Ganga Ghats – few inches away from the ever-flowing humungous river Ganga – is a fascinating sight which is captured by millions of cameras on those days. Lord Shiva is worshipped with special emphasis on these 10 days. On all these 10 days, River Ganga is offered sweets and flowers and small flames in leaf-boats are set afloat on the fast-flowing river with ringing of bells and chanting of ‘shlokas’, ‘kirtans’ and ‘bhajans’. It’s one of the most amazing devotional experiences ever!
Places which are located along the banks of River Ganga such as Rishikesh, Haridwar, Varanasi, Garh-Mukteswar, Prayag, Kanpur etc. are thronged by millions of Hindus and devotees of River Ganga to pay respects to the River as well as to take a Holy Dip in the River and perform puja on all 10 days.
On the days of Ganga Dassehra, it is believed to be a blessing and rewarding to give alms to the needy so all the Hindus who participate in the festival at the River Ganga at various places also do charity.
Facts about the Gigantic River Ganga:
1.    River Ganga originates in the Himalayas in Indian State of Uttarakhand at the confluence of River Bhagirathi and River Alaknanda and flows through India and Bangladesh. Gangotri Glacier is the point of origin of River Ganga. In Bangladesh, River Ganga is called River Padma.
2.    River Ganga is 2525 kms long from the Himalayas right upto the Bay of Bengal where it drains into the sea.
3.    Based on the ‘Volume-Rate’ of the water flow (discharge), River Gangs ranks among the Top 20 rivers in the world.

4.    400 million people inhabit the Ganga River basin (along its route) which makes it the highest populated river basin in the world.
5.    The first mention of River Ganga was in the Late Harappan period in the 2nd Millennium BC. The first official mention of River Ganga was made in the ancient Hindu scriptures – the Vedas dating back to 1500 BC. The first foreigner to have recorded River Ganga is the Greek Ethnographer – Megasthenes (in his book called ‘Indica’) who visited India during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya before 298 BC.

6.    According to Hindu Mythology, Goddess Ganga, who is a consort to all three Hindu deities – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva descends to earth in the reincarnation of River Ganga in order to purify and cleanse of sins of all those who take a Holy Dip in this river. Hindu river-pilgrimage and river-worship began with worshipping River Ganga in India. The ‘Maha Kumbh Mela’ is probably the biggest gathering of people in the world as in 2001 approximately 60 million people (of which 1 million people from outside of India) had gathered at Allahabad to worship River Ganga!
Pix courtesy: Wikipedia, Zeenews, Haridwarkumbhmela, Shunya, Geolt12.wordpress, Goldntriangleindiatours.

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