The river Ganga has a great religious, historical and mythological significance for Indians, especially Hindus. It rises at Gangotri, high in the snow-clad Himalayas and cascades down mighty boulders, flowing into the hot plains of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and finally meets the waters of the sea in the Bay of Bengal. The Ganga is revered all over India, even in places far from its course and water from the Ganga is considered to be very sacred and is an important inclusion for all Hindu rituals.
Ganga Dussehra is a holy festival that is dedicated to the worship of the river Ganga and is celebrated for ten days, beginning on the Amavasya (dark moon night) and ends on the shukla dasami (tenth phase of the moon). It is celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Jayeshta as per the Hindu calendar. This period corresponds to the month of May or June according to the Gregorian calendar. This festival is celebrated with great fervour in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
Mythology states that this is the day on which the sacred river Ganga descended on earth from heaven. So this festival is also known as ‘Gangavataran’ which means the descent of the Ganga. Regarded as a celestial river descending from heaven, Ganga is the most sacred river in India and is worshipped with a belief that Goddess Ganga can wash away all sins of mankind. The name Dussehra comes from ‘Dus’, which means ten and ‘Hara’ which is tantamount to defeat. Thus, it is believed that praying on this day can help you attain salvation from 10 sins and cure your physical ills. Ganga Dussehra is celebrated at major ghats of India such as Varanasi, Allahabad, Garh-Mukteshwar, Prayag, Haridwar and Rishikesh.
‘Aratis’ are executed at sundown and a large number of devotees meditate on the river banks. Ganga jal (water) is collected in containers and sealed and preserved in homes, to be used by the devotees on holy days for purifying places. People, who cannot reach the Ganga banks on this day, bathe in some close by pond or river, invoking Ganga by chanting her name and offering prayers or sprinkling Ganga jal (water) kept in most Hindu homes, for purification. Ganga Dussehra also marks the highest point of summer and hence devotees distribute lassi, sharbat, shikanji and rose milk in various places.
This year, Ganga Dussehra will be celebrated all across India on 3rd June 2017, so make your way to the banks of the river Ganga at the earliest and join in this pious celebration.
Picture Credits : Imagesbuddy.com, Dilip Merala – india.com