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Here is why Ganga Dussehra is the Heart of Hindus in India

Hindus believe that on this day, heavens gifted the people of Earth with the holy river after the penance of Bhagiratha to cleanse the cursed souls of Bhagiratha's ancestors.

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Ganga Dushhera celebration in Varanasi. Image source: www.janwarta.com
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  • Ganga Dussehra celebrated on June 14, this year to mark the descent of the River Ganga upon Earth
  • Many devotees take a bath in the Holy River Ganges to wash away all their sins
  • Kite flying is another tradition that is practiced after bathing in the river

There are times that we hold close to ourselves for it brings us joy and happiness. That is where festivals come in. Apart from celebrating the culture or the tradition that one identifies themselves with, festivals connects us to other people and culture and bless us with a sense of belonging which helps us stay connected to our roots.

Ganga Dussehra is a festival in celebrated by thousands of pilgrims and pandits all over India, and even the world, to pay their respects and gratitude to the river Ganga. It is believed that it was this day, when heavens gifted the people of Earth with the holy river after the penance of Bhagiratha to cleanse the cursed souls of Bhagiratha‘s ancestors.

This festival is also popularly known as Gangavataran, which is derived from two Sanskrit words, Ganga, the name of the holy goddess and Avataran, which means ‘descent’. This festival is not to be confused with Ganga Jayanti, which is the birth of the goddess. Ganga lived in the stoup of Lord Brahma, which is why, when it started flowing through the Earth, it brought with it all the glories of the Heavens above.

Ganga Dussehra celebration in Ujjain. Image source: www.hellotravel.com
Ganga Dussehra celebration in Ujjain. Image source: www.hellotravel.com

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A few important points to be noted about the festival are as follows:

  • It is believed that the Ganga brought down ten rare vedic astrological calculations when it descended upon the Earth, namely, Shukla Paksha, Jyeshtha month, Tenth Date, Wednesday, Hasta Nakshatra, Vyatipata Yoga, Gar Anand Yog, Sun in Taurus and Moon in Virgo, and when one takes a dip in its holy waters, all the sins are absorbed by these ten yogas.
  • If we go by the Gregorian calendar, the festival is celebrated between the months of May and June. Traditionally, the tenth day of ‘Shukl Paksha’ during the month of Jyeshta sees the occurrence of Ganga Dussehra, based on the position and shape of the moon.
  • The priests declared that the auspicious time for taking a bath in the river would be between 5.45 AM and 7.35 AM, which is devotedly followed by all the devout.
Hawan, a ritual performed on Ganga Dussehra. Image source: www.imgion.com
Hawan, a ritual performed on Ganga Dussehra. Image source: www.imgion.com
  • Performing charitable acts on this day is believed to be of special significance as it invites greater peace and satisfaction upon the mind. ‘Abhishek’ of lord Shiva, distributing prasad and generously donating to the poor are a few of the traditions followed by people across the country.
  • The festival was celebrated on 14th June this year. It is usually celebrated a day before Nirjala ekadashi, but these two festivals may soon merge in a few years.
  • Taking dips in the holy waters while humming the Ganga Stotra helps wash away all the sins that mankind is plagued with on a daily basis.
  • Kite flying is another tradition that is practiced after bathing in the river. The festival marks the high peak of the summer and marks the arrival of the rains.

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A woman worships a cow as Indian Hindus offer prayers to the River Ganges, holy to them during the Ganga Dussehra festival in Allahabad. Image source: AP
A woman worships a cow as Indian Hindus offer prayers to the River Ganges, holy to them during the Ganga Dussehra festival in Allahabad. Image source: AP
  • Other religious customs include donating items in counts of 10, for best positive results. Even performing the puja requires everything in counts of 10, like lamps, diyas, flowers, etc.
  • While conducting the puja, it is important to keep in mind to worship Bhagiratha as well as the Himalayas. Lord Shiva is the most important figure in this process, as it was by his grace that the Ganga incarnated on the Earth’s surface to bring prosperity upon the people.
  • Taking 10 dips in the holy waters relieves the 10 sins – 3 organic, 4 spoken and 3 mental.
  • Ganga Dussehra holds a lot of importance especially for the people of Agra, Mathura and Varanasi. It is popularly believed that the Mughals, impressed by the divine charm that this great river held, were inspired to build many great structures like the Taj Mahal.
  • The Braj Mandal sees very enthusiastic celebrations as devotees lovingly shared sweets, rose milk, lassi, sharbat and shikhanji among each other. Even the ghats witnessed many people performing the Yamuna Puja while reciting holy lines every year as part of the celebrations.

-by Saurabh Bodas, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter Handle: @saurabhbodas96

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Ganga has been a holy place since people have recognized it. It has and will be of great importance and therefore it is also important to take care of it

Next Story

India And Vietnam Come Together Against Maritime Rival China

Beijing has been protesting against joint Vietnamese-Indian oil exploration activities in the South China Sea for almost a decade, but New Delhi has refused to budge.

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India- Vietnam
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, left, shakes hands with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong before heading for talks behind closed doors in Hanoi, Vietnam. VOA

Advances in relations between Vietnam and India will help both countries resist Chinese expansion in Asia including the contested South China Sea, Asia scholars say.

India-Vietnam relations are growing again this week as Indian President Shri Ram Nath Kovind visits Vietnam Sunday through Tuesday. He was set to meet Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong for closed-door talks.

The visit advances a long-standing, fast-improving friendship that began in the 1970s, when Vietnamese leaders tapped India to diversify foreign policy, and leapt forward in 2016 when the two sides entered a strategic comprehensive partnership. Now both worry about China.

“Given a shared apprehension of Chinese assertiveness, New Delhi seeks to bolster Hanoi’s capabilities to check China, to expand Indian influence in Southeast Asia as a counterweight to China’s growing footprint in South Asia,” said Sameer Lalwani, deputy director for U.S. think tank The Stimson Center’s South Asia program.

India, elections, vietnam
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the gathering during the ‘Global Mobility Summit’ in New Delhi, India, VOA

South China Sea dispute

Vietnam and four other governments dispute all or part of Beijing’s claim to about 90 percent of the South China Sea. The two sides got into two deadly ship clashes, in 1974 and 1988, and rammed each other’s boats in 2014. China cites historical documents to support its claims.

India, located west of the Indochinese peninsula, does not claim the sea that lies east of Vietnam.

But last year hundreds of Chinese and Indian troops faced off on a Himalayan plateau disputed by China and India’s ally Bhutan. India also resents China’s support for its territorial rival Pakistan. It has grown eager to help Australia, Japan and the United States patrol Asian seas where China has alarmed other countries by landfilling tiny islets, in some cases for military use.

Those countries want the 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea open internationally instead of under increasing Chinese control.

“I think Vietnam wants India to play a more active role in the South Asian region because Vietnam knows that India is not so active in the quadrilateral, including the U.S., India, Australia and Japan,” said Trung Nguyen, director of the Center for International Studies at Ho Chi Minh University of Social Sciences and Humanities.

India-Vietnam
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, right, and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Phu Trong review an honor guard in Hanoi, Vietnam. VOA

​India and Vietnam held their first joint drill In the Bay Of Bengal in October to strengthen “working-level” relations, the Press Trust of India says. India has offered Vietnam $500 million in credit for arms purchases, as well, and proposed a South China Sea warning system able to send tsunami data to Vietnam.

Oil and gas exploration

Vietnam and India will use fuel exploration to consolidate their stand in the South China Sea, and with a potential profit, analysts forecast.

India and Vietnam already do “robust” trade, worth $12.8 billion in 2017-2018, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs says. Bilateral trade should reach $15 billion by 2020, the vice chairman of the Indian Business Chamber of Vietnam said last year. Indian investment in Vietnam was $2 billion then.

For the past four years, the overseas subsidiary of India’s government-run ONGC has worked with PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corp. to search for oil and gas in the South China Sea. China is probably watching warily, experts say.

Climate Change, Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, right, and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Phu Trong review an honor guard in Hanoi, Vietnam
Submerged tombs are seen at a flooded village after heavy rainfall caused by tropical storm Son Tinh in Ninh Binh province, Vietnam. VOA

Vietnam happens to need outside expertise and investment to find gas and oil off its long seacoast. Both domestic and foreign oil firms would earn money from any discoveries.

“The issue of oil is probably one of the larger political elephants in the room, so to speak,” said Maxfield Brown, senior associate with the business consultancy Dezan Shira & Associates in Ho Chi Minh City. “I’m sure that Vietnam is keen to find countries that are willing to invest in its natural resources and aren’t necessarily scared off by the threat of Chinese naval incursions.”

Spanish driller Repsol quit a Vietnamese-approved project in the South China Sea in March, apparently under pressure from China, media reports said then. Vietnam is now considering a $4.6 billion gas exploration project with ExxonMobil, local partner CNG Vietnam Joint Stock Co. says. China claims that site, as well.

“Vietnam is always trying to get them to do more exploration and India has been wary of holding onto blocks that aren’t productive or getting blocks that are in sensitive areas vis-a-vis China,” said Carl Thayer, professor emeritus with the University of New South Wales in Australia.

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India has shown little fear to date, said Mohan Malik, professor in Asian security, Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in the United States.

“Beijing has been protesting against joint Vietnamese-Indian oil exploration activities in the South China Sea for almost a decade, but New Delhi has refused to budge,” Malik said. “Through joint naval exercises and port calls at Vietnamese ports, New Delhi is signaling to Beijing that China’s growing naval expansion…would be countered by India’s naval outreach in the South China Sea.” (VOA)