Ganges: the sacred river of Hinduism
Worshiped by a billion Hindus, the Ganges river is fading despite years of government efforts to save it. Known as Mother Ganga, the river is born high in the Himalayan Mountains, but the discharge of pollutants and the uncontrolled use of its waters make it a toxic mud along its journey through large cities and industrial centers.
Thousands of Indians plunge and offer images of gods daily on the sacred river, believing that tradition will absolve their sins, and water is still used for human consumption and agricultural production along the 2,525-mile stretch. Why is it sacred to Hindus?
Rituals related to the Ganges river
The city of Varanasi, the most consecrated of the Hindu religion, is known as the city of light and demise. It is situated on the banks of the river and has a few sanctuaries. Past it, other significant urban areas are arranged on its banks: Calcutta, Patliputra, Kannauj, Kara, Allahabad and Murshidabad.
Practitioners of Hinduism wash in this river at any rate once in their lifetime, so it is entirely expected to see journeys consistently. It is assessed that 2 million Hindus wash day by day in the waterway. To them, to be washed with the waters of the river implies the sanitization of the spirits, other than consuming bodies in tremendous fires.
Being cremated on the banks of the river means the completion of the life cycle as it liberates them from reincarnation. After the cremation, the tradition is to throw the ashes into the river. However, not all bodies are cremated, some of them for example, children, pregnant women and people considered pure (sinless), are thrown into the river. In addition, the cows, considered sacred for the Hindus, also have that destiny.
Why is the Ganges river sacred?
As indicated by a legend of the Hindu religion, King Sagara had 60,000 youngsters. One day the god Indra stole Sagara his preferred horse; this made him exceptionally furious, so he sent every one of his children with the goal that they will catch him. At last, they discovered him in the underworld, alongside a sage named Kapila.
The youngsters felt that he had been accused of the theft and requested clarifications. The god, irate because they ruined his meditation, burned them with his eyes. From that time, their spirits were sentenced to meander through “limbo” forever.
To enable them to reach paradise, one of the 60000 kids asked the god Brahma to help them. The heavenly nature sent the goddess Ganga to cleanse the cinders of the dead.
As his arrival on earth could be risky, he requested assistance from Shiva, who enabled him to “pad” his fall from the sky through the water of the Ganges river. Once there, he discharged the spirits of the children of Sagara.
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