Thanks to my friend Rebecca’s recent post on The River Goddess, I remember I did some exploration on the Ganges River a year ago. I was helping my sister in organizing her pictures in Shutterfly, and could not resist from going into an exploratory mood…to find out the importance of the Ganges River to the Indians. I found a few articles which are very helpful to me.
Why is the River Ganga so important to the Indians?
The Ganga is considered o be a goddess and one of the consorts of Lord Siva. In the epic Mahabharata, Ganga was the mother of great hero Bhishma Pitama. After the Saraswati river dried up, the cradle of the Indian civilization shifted to the Gangetic plain. A river with the length of 1557 miles affects the lives of millions of people.Since people who lived o nits banks, especially agriculturists were so dependent on it, they worshipped it and sought its blessings. According to mythology, she was brought down from heaven by the King Bhagiratha in order to purify the ashes of his ancestors.
Source: Q and A Indian Civilization, by Sanjeev Nayyarhttp://www.esamskriti.com/essay-chapters/Questions-and-Answers-Indian-Civilization.aspx?Status=0#75
As soon as the day begins, devout Hindus begin to give their offerings of flowers or food, throwing handfuls of grain or garlands of marigolds of pink lotuses into the Ganges. Others will float small oil lamps on its surface.
Every morning thousands of Hindus, whether pilgrims or residents, make their way into the holy water of the Ganges. All of them face the rising sun with folded hands murmuring prayers.
The Ganges is a place of death and life. Hindus from all over India, will bring their dead, whether body or just ashes. Cremation along the Ganges is desirable. If that is not possible, the relatives may later bring the ashes of the dead to the Ganges.
For the living, bathing in the Ganges is just as important. Hindus will travel miles and miles to have their sins washed away in these holy waters.
I also found the following post very helpful.
“The Ganges” by Julie Dunn
From the pictures and description here, you will catch a glimpse of the importance of the Ganges to the Hindus.