The Ganges, in India, is not only regarded as a holy or sacred river but also draws the attention of countless people from all across the globe. Ganges, also referred to as River Ganga is the 3rd largest river in the world and the longest in India. Spanning across 2525 km, the river emerges in the Himalayas and later flows across Bangladesh and India. The Ganges, upon entering the West Bengal, splits into two different rivers viz. ‘River Padma’ as well as ‘River Hooghly.’ While, river Padma goes via Bangladesh before entering Bay of Bengal, the Hooghly goes past numerous districts in West Bengal to eventually flow and become a part of the amazing Bay of Bengal.
In this article, discover more about the magnificent Ganges, its origin, significance and other prominent facts that make it one of the widely worshipped rivers across India.
The Origin and History of the Marvellous Ganges
For more than hundred years, river Ganga has played a pivotal role in the religious, social and economic life of the Indians. In fact, it is central to the tradition, culture and life of the people of India. During the beginning of the Vedic period, River Indus and Sarasvati, were regarded as the major rivers in India, however, multiple references of the Ganges have been made during the later Vedic era.
The Significance of Ganga
According to the Hindu tradition, River Ganga is regarded as a Goddess. In fact, the Ganges also serves as a pilgrimage destination and people who dip themselves into the river water are believed to have purged from their past wrongdoings. Many people also believe that the water of the Ganges is holy and hence capable of curing ailments. Many followers of the Hindu religion store water from River Ganga at their homes since it is considered to be both pure and powerful.
Few also believe that the water of Ganges can cure ailments. Many Hindu families also store Ganga water in their homes as it is regarded as pure and is used before Hindu rituals. Many religious towns, including Varanasi, Haridwar, Kanpur, and Allahabad are considered holy and thousands of pilgrims visit these places to take a dip in the holy waters of the Ganges.
As per the Puranas, the holy book of Hindus, river Ganga was brought to the earth by King Bhagiratha. He desperately wanted to free his ancestors from a curse and the only way it was possible was through River Ganga. After he performed rigorous Tapasya, the Ganges descended onto planet Earth. Many Hindus also believe that when a person dies their ashes must be immersed in Ganga as it would lead to them attaining salvation.
According to another myth, River Ganga intended to wreak havoc on earth by descenting the planet in rage as well as in order to seek revenge. But, to prevent the entire chaos, Shiva (the supereme lord) caught the Ganges in his hair tangles, releasing the river in a stream that later became the very source of Ganga.
The Economic Significance of River Ganga
The significance of River Ganga is not restricted to religion alone. The Ganges has its economic significance as well. In fact, the water from the Gangetic plains is extensively used for the purpose of agriculture. Some of the major crops that are cultivated within the region are lentils, wheat, potatoes, rice, oil seeds and sugarcane. Apart from this, the river also contributes its bit to grow and expand the fishing sector. In fact, during the summer season, countless adventure activities in addition such as river rafting are also organized for those adventure enthusiasts in India.
Festivals around Ganga
The Ganges also hosts a number of Hindu festivals as well as celebrations every year. For instance, Ganga Dussehra is organized to celebrate the river’s descent on to the earth from the heaven. On this particular day, people take a dip inside the river water to wipe all their sins and get rid of their ailments. In addition to this, Kumbh Mela is also organized on the banks of the river at Haridwar and Allahabad. During the festival, pilgrims bathe in the holy water of the Ganges and also mass feed the poor aside to signing devotional songs.
By Puja Bhardwaj