Sunday, November 29, 2009

River of Life

The Ganges, or Ganga, River begins its 1500 mile journey from the base of the Himalaya’s and it winds its way across India and ends in the Bay of Bengal in Calcutta.
The Ganga is more than just a river…….it plays many roles in India…….it is woven into the very fabric of Indian culture, religion, mystery, and life.

We crossed the Ganga on our way to Jim Corbett National Park……and since we were all very eager to get to our final destination, there was no time for pictures……but on the way back, long before we reached the area, I mentioned to Ramesh that Preston and I would like to stop for a few moments to take some photographs.The wait did not disappoint…….as a matter of fact, I could have stayed in the area a few hours or so, in hopes to capture some very interesting shots of the happenings at the river…….

Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister penned these words about the Ganges in his book, “The Discovery of India” ; written in 1946.

“The Ganges, above all is the river of India, which has held India's heart
captive and drawnuncounted millions to her banks since the dawn of history.
The story of the Ganges, from her source to the sea, from old times to new,
is the story of India's civilization and culture, of the rise and fall of
empires, of great and proud cities, of adventures of man…”

The Ganga is worshiped as a goddess, it is believed that she descended from the heavens to earth from a lock of Lord Shiva’s hair… make the whole world pious, fertile and to wash out the sins of Humans.Most Hindus believe that one’s life is not complete unless they have bathed in the waters of the Ganges at least once in their lifetime.

Many Hindu families also keep a vial of water from the Ganges in their home. It is believed to be prestigious to have water from the Ganges in the home and to also have it on hand in the event that someone is dying. In this case, the ailing person is given the water to drink not only to help cure the illness but to also cleanse the soul and erase their sins.At the crossing of the river we used, boats lined the shores eager to take those wanting to bathe, out into the depths of the river. These boats were for hire specifically to help those wanting to carry out this pilgrimage.

The shores on the opposite side of the river were lined with bamboo structures that Ramesh shared are used in the performing of the pujas.

The boats were colorful, as are most things in India…….many donned advertising of one sort or another.

We witnessed people bathing in the water……carrying out their belief and making sure that their life was complete……

I vowed to return to the banks of this very important river…….to soak in a bit more of the culture of India….to better understand the importance this river plays in the lives of millions…..

No comments: