The Merciful Mother : “Ganga” - Part I
AUM Gangāye Namah
Since time immemorial, water is associated with worship and major rivers in all civilizations have been worshipped as goddesses. The ancient Mesopotamians honored the Tigris and the Euphrates, the Egyptians revere the Nile, the Chinese venerate the Yang Sikiang and Hwang Ho, and the Indians worship the river Ganges or Gangā. Water symbolizes fertility, abundance, crops, and growth. Thus, water has always been revered as sacred and divine.
In this article, we shall briefly touch upon the present day features and the greatness of Gaṅgā in Part I, and myths and legends of Gangā in Part II.
Present day features of Gangā
" The Ganges, above all is the river of India, which has held India"s heart captive and drawn uncounted 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, especially, is the river of India, beloved of her people, round which are intertwined her memories, her hopes and fears, her songs of triumph, her victories and her defeats. She has been a symbol of India"s age-long culture and civilization, ever changing, ever flowing, and yet ever the same Ganga�"
- Discovery of India, by Jawaharlal Nehru
Ganges is a big river of about 2,510 km long that origins as Bhagirathi at Gaumukh at the Gangotri Glacier (25,446 ft) in the state of Uttarakhand located at the central Himalayas, and completes its journey into the Bay of Bengal via the Gangetic Delta in the Sundarbans and as river Padma in Bangladesh, which also drains in the Bay of Bengal
Six rivers combine to make the mighty river Ganges. At Vishnuprayag, rivers Alakananda and Dhauliganga combine together; at Nandprayag, rivers Alakananda and Nandakini combine together, at Karnaprayag, rivers
Alakananda and Pindar combine together, at Rudraprayag, rivers Alakananda and Mandakini combine together, and at Devprayag, rivers Alakananda and Bhagirathi combine together, after which the river is known as the Ganges. Of these six rivers, Bhagirathi is considered as the main source.
Major Indian cities and towns that exist on the banks of the Ganges are Haridwar, Kanpur, Allahabad, Mirzapur, Varanasi, Patna, Bhagalpur, and Kolkata.