Why Ganga is considered as a Holy River? – History, Origin, Rituals and Places to visit

The GANGA, our national river is the largest river of Indian sub-continent, flowing east through the Gangetic Plains of Northern India into Bangladesh. The GANGA starts from western Himalayas in Uttarakhand. It is worshiped at various places such as Haridwar, Allahabad and Varanasi as it is said that Goddess GANGA brings good fortune and wash our sins.

ACTUAL SOURCE OF HOLY RIVER GANGA

No one knows about the history behind the rise of GANGA. The Goddess Ganga, the daughter of heaven took the form of river to wash the sins of King Bhagirath’s predecessors, LORD SHIVA received Ganga into his matted locks to minimize the impact of her fall.

According to Hindu Mythology, a Suryavanshi King, Sagar, decided to perform the ashwamedh yagna in which a horse accompanied by the king’s warriors would be released to wander for a period of one year and if no enemy had managed to kill or capture the horse, the animal will return to the king’s capital. It would be then sacrificed.

Warrior Sagar’s 60000 sons conquered the territories that the horse crossed. Indra was scared by their success and stole the horse and kept it in KAPIL MUNI’s ashram. Sagar’s sons followed the horse into the ashram and were disrespectful to the diviner, who cursed them which resulted in turning the princes into ashes.

The King begged Muni for his forgiveness, but the curse could not be reverted. Muni suggested that if the holy Ganga, the river of heaven, come down to the earth, the flow of her water would ensure the mukti of the princes.

Many successors of Sagar failed in their efforts to bring Ganga to earth, until Bhagirath was born.He engaged in his prayers until Ganga agreed to come down to the earth. But such was her power that her flow could cause destruction. Thus Bhagirath prayed to LORD SHIVA to contain Ganga in his locks, from where he released a few drops. From then the GANGA washes the sins of people and is known as Bhagirathi river.

RITUALS 

  • It is believed that shraadh and pind daan can be done on any day of the year, and once performed on the banks of Bhagirathi for their ancestors.
  • People collect water, known as GANGA JAL for use during auspicious occasions at home.
  • A special puja is performed on Ganga Saptami Vaishakh in Srinagar, when Ganga is said to flow on earth.

 SIGHTS NEAR GANGOTRI

  • The main temple opens on the day of Akshay Tritiya and closes down on Yama Dwitiya.
  • BHAGIRATHI SHILA is the rock on which Bhagirath had meditated.
  • SHIVLING is a place where Lord SHIVA sat when he received Ganga in his matted lock. It is merged in the river which is visible in winter months when water level decreases.
  • SURYA KUND is a place where there can be seen spectacular sight of two main waterfalls.
  • PANDAVA GUFA is a mystic cave dated back to the period of Mahabharata. It is believed to be the longest and oldest in Himalayan region where Pandavas lived and meditated.
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