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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

Diesel Exhaust Converted Into Ink by Indian Innovators To Battle Air Pollution

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

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representational image. VOA

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

In a cabin, young engineers pore over drawings and hunch over computers as they explore more applications of the technology that they hope will aid progress in cleaning up the Indian capital’s toxic air – among the world’s dirtiest.

While the millions of cars that ply Delhi’s streets are usually blamed for the city’s deadly air pollution, another big culprit is the massive diesel generators used by industries and buildings to light up homes and offices during outages when power from the grid switches off – a frequent occurrence in summer. Installed in backyards and basements, they stay away from the public eye.

“Although vehicular emissions are the show stoppers, they are the ones which get the media attention, the silent polluters are the diesel generators,” says Arpit Dhupar, one of the three engineers who co-founded the start up.

The idea that this polluting smoke needs attention struck Dhupar three years ago as he sipped a glass of sugarcane juice at a roadside vendor and saw a wall blackened with the fumes of a diesel generator he was using.

It jolted him into joining with two others who co-founded the start-up to find a solution. Dhupar had experienced first hand the deadly impact of this pollution as he developed respiratory problems growing up in Delhi.

An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.
An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.

A new business

As the city’s dirty air becomes a serious health hazard for many citizens, it has turned into both a calling and a business opportunity for entrepreneurs looking at ways to improve air quality.

According to estimates, vehicles contribute 22 percent of the deadly PM 2.5 emissions in Delhi, while the share of diesel generators is about 15 percent. These emissions settle deep into the lungs, causing a host of respiratory problems.

After over two years of research and development, Chakr has begun selling devices to tap the diesel exhaust. They have been installed in 50 places, include public sector and private companies.

The technology involves cooling the exhaust in a “heat exchanger” where the tiny soot particles come together. These are then funneled into another chamber that captures 70 to 90 percent of the particulate matter. The carbon is isolated and converted into ink.

Among their first clients was one of the city’s top law firms, Jyoti Sagar Associates, which is housed in a building in Delhi’s business hub Gurgaon.

Making a contribution to minimizing the carbon footprint is a subject that is close to Sagar’s heart – his 32-year-old daughter has long suffered from the harmful effects of Delhi’s toxic air.

Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.
Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.

“This appealed to us straightaway, the technology is very impactful but is beautifully simple,” says Sagar. Since it could be retrofitted, it did not disrupt the day-to-day activities at the buzzing office. “Let’s be responsible. Let’s at least not leave behind a larger footprint of carbon. And if we can afford to control it, why not, it’s good for all,” he says.

At Chakr Innovation, cups, diaries and paper bags printed with the ink made from the exhaust serve as constant reminders of the amount of carbon emissions that would have escaped into the atmosphere.

There has been a lot of focus on improving Delhi’s air by reducing vehicular pollution and making more stringent norms for manufacturers, but the same has not happened for diesel generators. Although there are efforts to penalize businesses that dirty the atmosphere, this often prompts them to find ways to get around the norms.

Also Read: Exposure to Traffic-Related Pollution Poses Threat of Asthma in Kids

Tushar Mathur who joined the start up after working for ten years in the corporate sector feels converting smoke into ink is a viable solution. “Here is a technology which is completely sustainable, a win-win between businesses and environment,” says Mathur. (VOA)