THE SCIENCE OF FESTIVALS: Ganga Dussehra
Ganga Dussehra is a festival dedicated in the honor of Devi Ganga – the live giving river to a large population of our country. It is also known as Gangavartan, as it commemorates the avartana (descent) of River Ganga, also known as Bhagirathi, on planet Earth
The festival is also a salutation for the immense prosperity the river provides to the country. The river travels almost 2,525 kilometers from its origin point, Gangotri, in the Himalayas. Around 625 million people of India’s total population live in the Ganges River basin.  For about 50 crore Indians, Ganga is a vital part of their livelihoods in sectors like agriculture, tourism, fishing, etc.
Who is Devi Ganga?
- Ganga is the daughter of Brahma, born from his kamandala (a spout-shaped vessel) when he was washing the feet of Vamana (The dwarf Brahmin incarnation of Lord Vishnu).
- In Valmiki Ramayana, Ganga is depicted as the daughter of King Himavat and Queen Menaka. She is the sister of Parvati, Lord Shiva’s consort.
- According to the Vishnu Purana, Ganga was created from the sweat of Lord Vishnu’s feet.
- King Bhagiratha, of the Ikshvaku dynasty, prayed to Lord Brahma for Ganga’s Descend on Earth, then on to the nether regions for the liberation of the souls of his ancestors, read the story here.
It was reported in the Times of India in 2016 that microbiologists isolated potent bacteriophages, viruses that mimic the bacteria present in the river and eliminate them, in the waters of the Ganges.
These bacteriophages thus explain the self-purifying and antiseptic properties of Ganga’s waters. It seems to also re-oxygenate itself almost miraculously and does not putrefy.
Maybe that’s why the dip in this nourishing water is considered so divine!
Celebrating Ganga Dussehra
Several rites and rituals of Ganga Pooja are performed. Shlokas praising Ganga are also chanted. Here’s a simple prayer to the Great River –
देवि सुरेश्वरि भगवति गङ्गे त्रिभुवनतारिणि तरलतरङ्गे ।
शङ्करमौलिविहारिणि विमले मम मतिरास्तां तव पदकमले ॥१॥
O Devi Bhagavati Ganga, the Goddess of the Devas, You liberate the Three Worlds with the (merciful) waves of Your Liquid Form, O the Stainless Pure One Who resides in the Head of Shankara, May my Devotion remain firmly established on Your Lotus Feet.
This year let us pay our tribute to the great river from our hearts or pray to the Ganga Devi idol and avoid gathering to restrict any spread of the pandemic.
Launched in 2014, the Namami Gange project is inclined towards the conservation and rejuvenation of the National River Ganga and its tributaries. The program consists of ecological aspects of river conservation such as real-time effluent monitoring, afforestation, and biodiversity conservation. This initiative has completed 114 missions successfully to support the rejuvenation of the river Ganga.
The Ganga Quest quiz is an interesting competition organized by the Namami Gange project with the goal to increase awareness and align people with the Ganga. It consists of 3 fun-filled rounds of questions with themes that can be chosen by the user. The accuracy of answers along with the time taken decides the winner!! Register now!