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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

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How telecom has become driver of economic change in India

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The country's hyper-competitive telecom sector has led the revolution from the front.
The country's hyper-competitive telecom sector has led the revolution from the front. Wikimedia Commons
  • India has done well to stay ahead of the curve in the technological revolution
  • The sectoral change in productivity has been the highest in the telecommunications sector since the reforms of 1991
  • India has managed to provide the cheapest telephony services around the world

For the most part of human history, the change was glacial in pace. It was quite safe to assume that the world at the time of your death would look pretty much similar to the one at the time of your birth. That is no longer the case, and the pace of change seems to be growing exponentially. Futurist Ray Kurzweil put it succinctly when he wrote in 2001: “We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century – it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).” Since the time of his writing, a lot has changed, especially with the advent of the internet.

India has done well to stay ahead of the curve in the technological revolution. The country’s hyper-competitive telecom sector has led the revolution from the front. In fact, according to Reserve Bank of India data, the sectoral change in productivity has been the highest in the telecommunications sector since the reforms of 1991, growing by over 10 percent. On the other hand, no other sector has had a productivity growth of above five percent during the same period. It is no wonder that it has also been one of the fastest-growing sectors of the Indian economy, growing at over seven percent in the last decade itself.

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Such an unprecedented pace of growth has been brought about the precise levels of change that Kurzweil was so enthusiastic about. Today’s smartphones have the power of computers that took an entire room in the 1990s, and the telecom sector has had to keep up with a provision of commensurate internet speeds and services. Meanwhile, India has managed to provide the cheapest telephony services around the world, which has hit rock bottom after the entry of Reliance Jio. This has ensured access to those even at the bottom of the pyramid.

A rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country.
A rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country. Wikimedia Commons

Even though consumers have come to be accustomed to fast-paced changes within the telecom sector, the entry of Jio altered the face of the industry like never before by changing the very basis of competition. Data became the focal point of competition for an industry that derived over 75 percent of its revenue from voice. It was quite obvious that there would be immediate economic effects due to it. Now that we’re nearing a year of Jio’s paid operations, during which time it has even become profitable, we saw it fit to quantify its socio-economic impact on the country. Three broad takeaways need to be highlighted.

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First, the most evident effect has been the rise in affordability of calling and data services. Voice services have become practically costless while data prices have dropped from an average of Rs 152 per GB to lower than Rs 10 per GB. Such a drastic reduction in data prices has not only brought the internet within the reach of a larger proportion of the Indian population but has also allowed newer segments of society to use and experience it for the first time. Since the monthly saving of an average internet user came out to be Rs 142 per month (taking a conservative estimate that the consumer is still using 1 GB of data each month) and there are about 350 million mobile internet users in the country (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India data), the yearly financial savings for the entire country comes out to be Rs 60,000 crore.

To put things in perspective, this amount is more than four times the entire GDP of Bhutan. Therefore, mere savings by the consumer on data has been at astonishing proportions.

Today's smartphones have the power of computers that took an entire room in the 1990s, and the telecom sector has had to keep up with a provision of commensurate internet speeds and services. Wikimedia Commons
Today’s smartphones have the power of computers that took an entire room in the 1990s, and the telecom sector has had to keep up with a provision of commensurate internet speeds and services. Wikimedia Commons

Now, this data has been used for services that have brought to life a thriving app economy within the country. So, the second level of impact has been in the redressal of a variety of consumer needs — ranging from education, health and entertainment to banking. For instance, students in remote areas can now access online courseware and small businesses can access newer markets. Information asymmetry has been considerably reduced.

Third, a rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country. These effects arise not merely from the creation of an internet economy, but also due to the synergy effects it generates. Information becomes more accessible and communication a lot easier. Businesses find it easier to operate and access consumers. Labour working in cities has to make less frequent trips home and becomes more productive as a result. Education and health services become available in inaccessible locations. Multiple avenues open up for knowledge and skill enhancement.

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An econometric analysis for the Indian economy showed that the 15 percent increase in internet penetration due to Jio and the spill-over effects it creates will raise the per capita levels of the country’s GDP by 5.85 percent, provided all else remains constant.

Thus, India’s telecom sector will continue to drive the economy forward, at least in the short run, and hopefully catapult India into 20,000 years of progress within this century, as Kurzweil postulated. The best approach for the state would be to ensure the environment of unfettered competition within the industry. Maybe other sectors of the economy ought to take a leaf out of the telecom growth story. The Indian banking sector comes to mind. However, that is a topic for another day. (IANS)

(Amit Kapoor is Chair, Institute for Competitiveness, India. He can be contacted at Amit. Kapoor@competitiveness.in and tweets @kautiliya. Chirag Yadav, a senior researcher at the institute, has contributed to the article.)