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Jal Hi Jeevan Hai: Find out why Water is so Holy in Hinduism!

In Hinduism, water is believed to wash away impurities and purifies whatever comes to its contact, not only externally but spiritually as well

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A ritual in Hinduism. Image source: jacobbmurphy.wordpress.com
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Water undoubtedly has the paramount spot in the practices of virtually all religions, for three prime reasons. Firstly, because water is the essence of life. It’s the basic element of everything and it’s possible to imagine life without water. Secondly, because water cleanses. 

Water washes away impurities and purifies whatever comes to its contact not only externally but spiritually as well. The magnitude of water reveals itself differently in various religions and cultures but it is these prime qualities of water that makes it the basis of every culture and religion.

Holy Rivers

Water is the very essence of Hinduism, not only for its life preserving characteristics but also because of its extensive use in rituals and practices. River Ganga (the Ganges) is considered sacred and often personified as a goddess in Hinduism.

There are seven principle holy rivers in India namely the Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari, Sarasvati, Narmada, Sindhu, and Kaveri. Most rivers are feminine and are personified as goddesses. Despite the fact that Hinduism surrounds many different beliefs and customs, but still share the significance of achieving purity and cleanliness. This relates to both physical as well as spiritual prosperity.

Ganga Dashara,Haridwar via Wikimedia Commons
Ganga Dashara at Haridwar via Wikimedia Commons

Pilgrimage holds another importance spot in Hinduism. Holy places are normally on the banks of rivers or seashores. Sacred rivers are thought to be a great equalizer,in which a swim can make all sins fall away. Kumbhamela is the main pilgrimage of Hindu devotees and is held every three years. Funeral spots are always located near a river. After the cremation, the ashes are cast into the holy rivers.Certain spots on the seashore are also holy. Puri is considered sanctified to Vaishnavas, and Cape Comorin (Kanyakumari) is sacred to followers of Shiva and devotees of Rama.

Certain lakes and ponds are also seen as sacred. Particularly in the Southern part of India,where tanks (man-made ponds) are built so that worshipers can clean themselves before entering the temple.

Sacred water

Water plays a crucial role in all rituals in Hinduism.From cleaning the vessels before poojas (rituals) to bathing the Deities. Water is offered to the Deity and the water collected from bathing the Deities are often considered sacred. This water is offered as “Theertha” meaning a blessed oblation.

Poorna Kumba literally means a full pitcher, is a pitcher full of holy water with fresh leaves preferably from mango trees and a banana placed on the top.This symbolizes God and is often used during Hindu religious rites. The water in the jar is said to be sacred and a divine essence.

  • Many rituals in Hinduism begin with keeping a kalasa, which is a brass, silver or gold pot filled with water decorated with mango leaves and a banana.
  • Kalasa symbolizes the totality or the universe and becomes a crucial part of the Hindu rituals and poojas. The pot is believed to be the first vessel into which the Deities descend.
  • One of the religious rituals is Tarpana, which means to please the god in Hinduism. Tarpana is the practice of pouring water through fingers with the use of sacred grass as a symbolic gesture of showing, gratitude, and pleasing Gods.
  • During every purification rite, water is sprinkled on the object which is to be cleansed.
  • Before eating the meal,it is a tradition in Hindus to sprinkle water around the plate in which the food is served to thank and please the god.
  • In ancient period, Kings were sprinkled with water in order to purify them during their coronation to ensure an auspicious beginning to their reign.

Water is one of the sacred element in Hinduism, especially rivers. Hindus believe that bathing in the river helps in the forgiveness of sins. They immerse the ashes of the dead in the sacred waters of Ganges as a means to send the soul to heaven. In many cultures, water is also the fountainhead of inspiration and has been for many ages. People have adopted spiritual and traditional values that bind and support them in living a peaceful and a prosperous life. And of course ,this play a crucial role in water management as well.

– by Yajush Gupta of NewsGram. Twitter: yajush_gupta

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  • AJ Krish

    The purification properties of water are mentioned in many of our scriptures. This belief is even carried on to this day.

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NASA’s Probe Discovers Signs Of Water on Asteroid Bennu

OSIRIS-REx will pass later this month just 1.2 miles (1.9 km) from Bennu, entering the asteroid's gravitational pull and analyzing its terrain.

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Asteroid
This Nov. 16, 2018, image provide by NASA shows the asteroid Bennu. NASA

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has discovered ingredients for water on a relatively nearby skyscraper-sized asteroid, a rocky acorn-shaped object that may hold clues to the origins of life on Earth, scientists said on Monday.

OSIRIS-REx, which flew last week within a scant 12 miles (19 km) of the asteroid Bennu some 1.4 million miles (2.25 million km) from Earth, found traces of hydrogen and oxygen molecules — part of the recipe for water and thus the potential for life — embedded in the asteroid’s rocky surface.

The probe, on a mission to return samples from the asteroid to Earth for study, was launched in 2016. Bennu, roughly a third of a mile wide (500 meters), orbits the sun at roughly the same distance as Earth. There is concern among scientists about the possibility of Bennu impacting Earth late in the 22nd century.

 

NASA, asteroid
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx. Flickr

 

“We have found the water-rich minerals from the early solar system, which is exactly the kind of sample we were going out there to find and ultimately bring back to Earth,” University of Arizona planetary scientist Dante Lauretta, the OSIRIS-REx mission’s principal investigator, said in a telephone interview.

Asteroids are among the leftover debris from the solar system’s formation some 4.5 billion years ago. Scientists believe asteroids and comets crashing into early Earth may have delivered organic compounds and water that seeded the planet for life, and atomic-level analysis of samples from Bennu could provide key evidence to support that hypothesis.

“When samples of this material are returned by the mission to Earth in 2023, scientists will receive a treasure trove of new information about the history and evolution of our solar system,” Amy Simon, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said in a statement.

OSIRIS-REx, NASA, Asteroid
This illustration provided by NASA depicts the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at the asteroid Bennu. The rocky remnant from the dawn of the solar system may hold clues to the origins of life. VOA

“We’re really trying to understand the role that these carbon-rich asteroids played in delivering water to the early Earth and making it habitable,” Lauretta added.

OSIRIS-REx will pass later this month just 1.2 miles (1.9 km) from Bennu, entering the asteroid’s gravitational pull and analyzing its terrain. From there, the spacecraft will begin to gradually tighten its orbit around the asteroid, spiraling to within just 6 feet (2 meters) of its surface so its robot arm can snatch a sample of Bennu by July 2020.

Also Read: Wintertime Ice Growth in Arctic Sea Slows Long-Term Decline: NASA

The spacecraft will later fly back to Earth, jettisoning a capsule bearing the asteroid specimen for a parachute descent in the Utah desert in September 2023. (VOA)