The Ganges has been a symbol of
India's age-long culture and civilization, ever changing, ever flowing, and
yet ever the same Ganga. Jawaharlal
Nehru, First Prime Minister of India, born in Allahabad on the Ganges.
The Holy Ganga - Origination & Journey
The river known as the Ganges is officially and popularly known by its
Hindu name, Ganga. The river Ganges is very sacred to the Hindus. The river
has its source in the Himalayas, at Gaumakh in the southern
Indian side of the Tibetan border. It is 1 560 miles (2 510 km) long and
flows through China, India, Nepal
Ganges river basin is one of the most fertile and densely populated in the
world and covers an area of 400 000 sq miles (1 000 000 sq km). The river
flows through 29 cities with population over 100,000, 23 cities with
population between 50,000 and 100,000, and about 48 towns.
Ganga in The Hindu Myth
According to Hindu mythology, Ganga flowed in the heavens but then was
ordered to go down to earth. Fearing that her forceful descent might wash
away the earth, the gods sought the help of Shiva. Shiva broke the fall of
Ganga-Ganges by capturing her in his mighty locks. Since then, Ganga-Ganges
resides on top of Shiva's head as his second wife, the first being Parvati.
Pious Cities Enroute The Ganges Journey:
Significance of the Ganga:
Hindus regard the Ganges as the holiest of rivers. It was named after the
goddess Ganga, the daughter of the mountain god Himalaya. Pilgrimage sites
are particularly significant along the river. At the confluence of the
Ganges and and the Tamuna tributory near Allahabad a bathing festival in
January and February attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims.
Other holy pilgrimage sites along the river include Haridwar, the place
where the Ganges leaves the Himalayas, and Allahabad, where the mythical
Saraswati river is believed to enter the Ganges. It is believed that bathing
in Ganga washes away one's sins and the water cleanses you of all the evil.
The Ganges water is considered to be holy and Hindus cast the ashes of their
dead in the river in the belief that this will guide the souls of the
deceased straight to paradise.
Cleaning The Ganges:
Along with the glory of Ganga, comes the pollution as well. The pious river
has become an agent of the worst waterborn diseases like dysentery,
hepatits, and cholera. Money is being raised by the government and other
groups such as the Swatcha Ganga to clean the Ganges. The Ganga Action Plan
was also initiated with the objective of purifying the holy river. None the
less, the Ganges is still the purifying waters for the Hindus of India.