Rati Hegde
The Mighty Ganga

GANGA – Mother, River, Eco-System, Cultural Hub

This Makar Sankranti witnessed the start of the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, U.P. The Purna Kumbh which takes place every 12 years is considered by Hindus to be the holiest of times when a dip in the Sangam earns one unlimited ‘punya’. The Kumbh Mela carries forward the story of the ‘Sagar Manthan’, the churning of the mighty ocean, in a quest for Nectar - ‘Amrit’. It is believed that 4 drops of the nectar fell on this earth when the ‘Devas’ and ‘Asura’ fought for possession of the ‘Amrit Kalash’ or Kumbh (pot containing the nectar). The four places where the nectar is supposed to have fallen are Nasik, Allahabad (Prayag, Sangam), Hardwar (Har-ki-paudi) and Ujjain. Every four years, ‘Ardh Kumbh’ is held at the other places and once every twelve years, the ‘Purna Kumbh’ is held at Prayag, the meeting point of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers.

The mighty Ganges, which flows for 2,500 km from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, is an emblem of India’s rich culture and ecology. Its basin covers roughly 30% India’s land area and is home to 500 million people. It also supports over 140 fish species and is home to the world’s only population of mangrove-inhabiting tigers. Our culture, irrespective of the religion we now follow, has the base of Ganga in it. Countless Hindustani musical traditions, art and sculpture traditions, rituals, all owe their existence to the river Ganga. But unfortunately this very Ganga is now the home to uncontrollable pollution. A study by the Central Pollution Control Board in 2007 showed that Ganga contributed to 40% of the polluted river stretches in India. It is sad that the only river in the world which, for centuries, has the distinction of having the purest water is now prey to the greed and thoughtless behavior of mankind. It is believed that Alexander the Great, when he returned from India, carried Ganga water with him. Foreigners and western scientists keep making attempts to save this mighty river but we Indians and especially our politicians lack the will to save the Ganga. The sad death of Swami Nigamanand who gave his life to stop the illegal mining on the riverbed of Ganga is just an example. Our seers have tried from time to time to protest against the pollution, but with very little success.

According to our Puranas, Ganga is said to purify herself by washing the feet of the Holy Seers and Rishis. Hindu belief says that all rainfall in the country is just the Ganga recycled and thus she keeps blessing this land of ours. It is time that we recognized our own wealth in the form of rivers and culture, and worked hard to keep them alive.

Ganga is pure, Ganga is holy
To her our obeiance, our prayers eternal.

We worship her, we pray to her, we wash off our sins
And then repeat them, showing ourselves to be hypocritical cretins.

She comes from the mountains and ends at the seas
She flows through hamlets, towns and cities.

With her divinity she bless us, washes our souls
She attracts to herself saints and sages galore.

Mankind is selfish, abusive and demented
When that which nourishes him, he takes for granted.

Ganga quenches our thirst for water, food, knowledge and salvation
Isn't it time we cleaned the Ganga and gave her some consolation?

Reference: i) WWF India
ii) Wikimedia Commons


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Rati Hegde
I am basically a hardcore Home-maker with 3 children. I also bring out a newsletter on spirituality - SETU, every

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