Biography of River Ganga
Rising from the western parts of the Himalayas in the Uttarakhand state of India, River Ganga, which is known as River Ganges stretches 1,569 miles (2,525 km) flowing through India, Nepal into Sundarbans delta in the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh. Along the river, there are major cities such as Rampur, Raj Shahi, Kanpur, Haridwar among others. Among the Hindus, River Ganga is considered to be sacred where most religious rituals were and are being carried out. Sometime of the rituals that were and are still performed in this river are ritual bathing and spreading cremated ashes across her waters.
Among the Hindus, River Ganga is regarded as holy and they worship it as goddess Ganga. Besides being regarded as a sacred river among the Hinduism community, River Ganga has its importance in the history of India since most of the ancient capitals such as Allahabad and Murshidabad are located along its Banks.
Several rivers such as Ghagra, Kosi, Gandaki and Son joins River Ganga forming a formidable current that stretches from its origin in Northern India and West Bangal in Bangladesh. As stated above, it passes through several towns such as Soron, Saidpur, Allahabad, Ghazipur and Bhagalpur. Passing through Bhagalpur, it meanders across Rajmahal Hills running south. River Ganga is the main drainage system of the basin where it runs supporting the highest human density in the world. It has been discovered that more than 50% of Indian population occupies one-third of the Himalayan Gangetic plains and depends on it for a living. Therefore, the fertile Ganges Basin is important to the India and Bangladesh’s agricultural economies. River Ganga and its tributaries are the major sources of irrigation across the region. The major crops that are cultivated across the basin include potatoes, rice, oil seeds, wheat, lentils and sugarcane. Another features along the river that boosts the agricultural sector are the swamps and lakes that supports the growing of crops such as chillies, jute, sesame and mustard. The river is also the major source of fish for the region even though it is highly polluted. The river also acts as a tourist attraction site for Hindu pilgrims at the towns of Haridwar, Varanasi and Allahabad. The pilgrims arrive at these towns to perform ritual bathing which they belief that it cleanses their sins in search for salvation. Additionally, the rapids acts as a river rafting area, which attracts thousands of tourists during the summer.
Numerous mythological beliefs surrounds the river with the most common ones being that a famous king, Bhagiratha, performed various rituals for several years to form the river in search for salvation for his cursed ancestors. It is believed that the Ganges descended from the Heavens to Earth. The Hinduism community believes that the river flows through Lord Shiva’s dreadlocks down to earth to make it pure and cleanse the sins of human beings. Another widely believed myth is that River Ganga was created when Vishnu (God) was crossing the universe and while he was taking the second step, his big toe cracked the walls of the universe and from that crack the waters of River Mandakini spilled out.
Among the Hinduism community, if one does not take a bath in River Ganga his/her life is considered to be incomplete. Therefore, for one’s life to be complete, one must take a bath in the river at least once in his/her life for it to be complete. Most of the Hindus fetch and store the sacred water from the river and use it during special events. They also belief that despite the water cleansing the sins of people, it also cleanses their body and mind and cures the ill ones. The river is significant in the history of India and to the Hinduism community it is not just a river but more of a culture, goddess and much more.