India is a land of festivals and festivals here are not just religious in nature, but they are linked to life and celebration. Among the myriad of festivals celebrated in this country, Ganga Dussehra is of great significance.
River Ganges is the most sacred river to the Hindus. It is worshipped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism as it is a lifeline to millions of Indians who live along its course and depend on it for their daily needs. Apart from providing drinking water and irrigation fields, people revere the river as a deity and innumerable mythological stories too are associated with the river.
The great epic Mahabharata mentions the most significant tale on the emergence of the Ganga on Earth. It mentions that King Bhagirath brought Ganga to earth to free the spirits of his forefathers from the curse of Saint Kapila. It is said that Ganga told Bhaghirath that it would be physically impossible to control her mighty flow and for that he should pray to Lord Shiva and ask for his favor.
Brahma, the creator, blessed Ganga and let her out of his Kamandal or the holy pot. Ganga then rushed on to the barren land with all her might. Her flow was so strong that Lord Shiva had to hold the flow of the river with the strands of his hair.
Hindus believe that the holy river Ganga descended from heaven to earth on Ganga Dusshera. Dusshera stands for the ten promising Vedic calculations. These predictions signify Ganga’s ability to wash ten sins associated with thoughts, speech, and actions.
The Ganges is not only a sacred river but also the heart of India. Devotees worship this river for a better fortune. On the day of Ganga Dussehra, thousands of lamps are lit in the flowing river for bringing peace and goodness. Haridwar, Prayag, and Varanasi are the most popular celebration spots of Ganga Dussehra in India. On the same day, the river Yamuna is also worshipped, and kite-flying events are organized. Devotees take a holy dip in the Yamuna at places like Mathura, Vrindavan, and Bateshwar, and give offerings of watermelon and cucumber. They distribute drinks such as lassi, sharbat, and shikanji.
The Ganga river arises from Gangotri in the snow-clad Himalayas, flows in the hot plains of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and meets in the Bay of Bengal. It also meets with Saraswati and Yamuna river in Allahabad. The confluence of these rivers in Prayagraj known as ‘Triveni Sangam’ is the holiest spot in India.
It is believed that taking a dip in the river on the day of Dussehra can bring the devotee to a state of purification and heal any physical ailments that they may have. In Sanskrit, Dasha means ten and hara means to destroy, thus bathing in the river at this time is believed to rid the person of ten sins or alternatively sins of ten lifetimes. It also helps to gain health, wealth, and prosperity by performing personalized Rudrabhishekam Puja on the Ganga Dussehra.
By Archita Baweja of Melbourne is an engineer by profession but a writer at heart