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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

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.

Next Story

Report Claims, As Many As 1 Billion Indians Live in Areas of Water Scarcity

The report also highlighted that India uses the largest amount of groundwater -- 24 per cent of the global total and the country is the third largest exporter of groundwater -- 12 per cent of the global total.

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Global groundwater depletion - where the amount of water taken from aquifers exceeds the amount that is restored naturally - increased by 22 per cent between 2000 and 2010, said the report, adding that India's rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 per cent during the same period. Pixabay

As many as one billion people in India live in areas of physical water scarcity, of which 600 million are in areas of high to extreme water stress, according to a new report.

Globally, close to four billion people live in water-scarce areas, where, for at least part of the year, demand exceeds supply, said the report by non-profit organisation WaterAid.

This number is expected to go up to five billion by 2050, said the report titled “Beneath the Surface: The State of the World’s Water 2019”, released to mark World Water Day on March 22.

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Pure water droplet. Pixabay

Physical water scarcity is getting worse, exacerbated by growing demand on water resources and and by climate and population changes.

By 2040 it is predicted that 33 countries are likely to face extremely high water stress – including 15 in the Middle East, most of Northern Africa, Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan and Spain. Many – including India, China, Southern Africa, USA and Australia – will face high water stress.

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Globally, close to four billion people live in water-scarce areas, where, for at least part of the year, demand exceeds supply, said the report by non-profit organisation WaterAid. Pixabay

Global groundwater depletion – where the amount of water taken from aquifers exceeds the amount that is restored naturally – increased by 22 per cent between 2000 and 2010, said the report, adding that India’s rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 per cent during the same period.

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The report also highlighted that India uses the largest amount of groundwater — 24 per cent of the global total and the country is the third largest exporter of groundwater — 12 per cent of the global total.

The WaterAid report warned that food and clothing imported by wealthy Western countries are making it harder for many poor and marginalised communities to get a daily clean water supply as high-income countries buy products with considerable “water footprints” – the amount of water used in production — from water-scarce countries. (IANS)