The fainthearted should not watch. Sacred Waters of the Ganges River
I want to warn you right away that the post is not for the faint-hearted.It amazes me, but this is possible in our time, in our modern society, in the 21st century – the age of high technology:
A bit of information from Wikipedia.
The Ganga in Hindu mythology is the heavenly river that descended to earth and became the Ganges River. Since ancient times it has been considered a sacred river for Hindus. Of all the rivers in the world, it is the river that is most revered. Ganges water, according to legend, have the power to purify and remove sins, and the river itself is a symbol of sanctity and purity, despite the physical pollution of its water. The main ritual associated with the river is simply bathing in its waters. Residents of nearby areas often come to bathe in the river daily. Many pilgrims from all over India and other countries come to the river exclusively for the purpose of performing the sacred ablution, which is considered obligatory at least once in the life of a Hindu.
The Ganges is a popular place of burial. Since the river in Hinduism is the link between Earth and Heaven, it is believed that when Hindus throw the ashes of their dead relatives into the waters of the river, they help them reach moksha (salvation) and go to Heaven. Therefore, cremation anywhere along the river is desirable for Hindus. Often people carry the dead here across the country, and fires are constantly lit on the banks of the river on which the dead are burned. If cremation on the banks of the river is not possible, relatives may subsequently bring the ashes to the Ganges, and some companies offer to transport them even from abroad and perform appropriate ceremonies to scatter the ashes. The poorest Indians, however, often, because of what they consider to be the high cost of wood for cremation, the cost of electric crematoriums and the cost of Brahman services, consider the ceremony excessively expensive, which is why they simply throw the bodies of the dead into the water.
The river, however, has a long-standing reputation for its ability to cleanse itself, which is, in part, supported by official science. In this regard, a constantly high number of bacteria also contains bacteriophages, which destroy a large proportion of dangerous bacteria and do not allow them to multiply more than a certain level. The waters of the Ganges River are also capable of retaining oxygen; the details of this process are poorly understood. National Public Radio reports that dysentery and cholera in the river have now disappeared and the risk of widespread epidemics has recently declined
Think you’ve seen the scariest and most disgusting thing? You just haven’t read this post yet
The Ganges is the river, the sacred pilgrimage site of every Hindu, the Heart of India and the main artery of the country, a river in South Asia.
Ganges is one of the most full-flowing rivers in the world, after the Amazon and Congo, 2700 km long, and the largest river in South Asia. The river originates from a grotto called Cow Face, which is in the Greater Himalayas, and after many twists and turns flows into the Bay of Bengal.
About the Ganges River
The total length of the Ganges is 2,500 kilometers, and literally every blade of grass along its banks is alive only because of the river water. The Ganges is home to many rare plants and animals, including the Ganges gavial, the only surviving species of these narrow-mouthed crocodiles on earth. The Ganges is also home to extremely rare river dolphins and even freshwater sharks.
In purely practical terms, the Ganges is absolutely irreplaceable – for most people and animals living near its streams, the river is the only source of water. The Ganges is actively used by local farmers to irrigate fertile land. However, the river is not revered for its water supply functions.
Nirvana on the River
The waters of the Ganges are considered sacred to every Hindu, regardless of school – each uses the Ganges for their own ritual purposes. According to legends, the Ganges River in ancient times flowed in heaven, washing the shores of paradise. Every god drew strength, youth and immortality from it. For a man to drink water from the heavenly Ganga was the highest grace in this life – because Ganga washed away all sins from the soul and destroyed the Wheel of Sansara, freeing a man from rebirths after death and allowing him to enter Nirvana.
Thus, raja Bhagiratha, seeing that the people were mired in sin, called upon the gods with a request to punish the sinners and reward the righteous. Shiva did not destroy India as Yahweh did Sodom and Gomorrah, but rather poured out the sacred waters of the Ganges on earth. Thus the river Ganges appeared in the world of mortals. Since then, people who lead a righteous life can wash away their sins in the waters of the sacred river, getting a chance to enter paradise.
A place of rituals not for the faint-hearted
The most popular place for ganga rituals is Varanasi. In this city, several kilometers of the ganga bank are paved with ghats – steps going under the water. Legend has it that the ghats were built by the gods themselves, showing people the best way to purify themselves. On these steps people perform ablutions, lower special lamps with candles into the water, asking the deities for help and… corpses.
According to Hindu canons, the best method of burial is to burn the body and then scatter the ashes in holy places. However, given that the burning must be done solely on natural firewood, things change.
Firewood is terribly expensive in India, and half-poor Hindus cannot afford the luxury of burning on wood, except for pregnant women, children and saints. The ritual is therefore often limited to the symbolic burning of a pile of brushwood, on which the body of the deceased is placed. After the brushwood burns, the half-burnt, stiff corpse is simply lowered into the water. Therefore, a person floating unhurriedly face down on the Ganges is by no means an uncommon occurrence. This factor, as well as technological progress and overpopulation of the area has caused severe pollution of the Ganges, but the locals have no choice.
However, in places popular among Western tourists, powerful water purifiers are installed, and therefore the probability of stumbling on the remains is significantly reduced. However, followers of the cult of Shiva, the god of destruction and death, which is devoted to the Ganges, this does not embarrass. As, however, and most Hindus – the belief in the sanctity of the river obscures the state of this.
Most tourists visiting India, washed in the Ganges – because without this completion of the pilgrimage is considered incomplete and even blasphemous. After washing and offering fruit to the gods, many return to their native lands filled with bliss and divine presence, confident that the request will be fulfilled. Once at the Ganges, one should not miss one’s chance for a free eternal indulgence.