Prof Nawal Prinja, Religious Education Spokesman, World Council of Hindus VHP- UK, shares the experience of his relatives’ recent visit to India and taking a holy dip in the Ganges
My relatives recently visited India and they were fortunate to offer their worship to Divine by taking a dip in the river Ganga and attended ‘Ganga aarti’ as well. Mr Brij and Mrs Anita Kalia from London asked me to share their experience with Asian Lite readers.
Sunday 8th of June was a very special day for millions of Hindus. It is believed that on this day, Goddess Ganga descended from heaven to Earth in the form of River Ganges. According to Hindu mythology the force was going to be so strong that it could have shattered the Earth. So Lord Shiva, sitting on top of Mount Kailash in Himalayas, agreed to bear the force on his head and release the river calmly to the Earth.
Ganga was brought down to Earth by the efforts of King Bhagirath whose ancestors had died after committing several sins. He was seeking their salvation and wanted Goddess Ganga to wash away their sins and purify them. That started a long tradition of Hindu devotees taking a dip in the River Ganges to wash away their sins. It sounds fascinating but like all other stories from Hindu mythology, this too carries an important message.
The picture of serene looking Lord Shiva sitting cross-legged with Ganga flowing from his head conveys the idea to let good thoughts flow from mind to wash away bad tendencies. Just like flowing water washes away dirt, good ideas can wash away anger, greed, jealousy and revenge that could cause one to sin. On this day, Hindu devotees fast and take a dip in river Ganges and offer worship. Hundreds of leaf boats with small flickering lamps and flowers are sent flowing down the river with conch shells and bells ringing. Priests chant the Sanskrit mantras. The sight and sounds awaken one’s senses to the beauty of nature. It fills the mind with peace and removes negativities creating much more positive feelings towards life. This festival of Ganga Dashmi adds extra beauty to the flow of life.