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Ganga Dussehra

Ganga Dussehra
Place : Uttar Pradesh
Month: June
Significance: Celebration of the descent of the sacred river Ganga

Ganga, the holy river is venerated by the Hindus as a mother as well as a goddess. Ganga Dusshera is, celebrated on the 10th day of the Hindu month of Jayeshta. Ten days of this month are devoted to the worship of this holy river. 

According to the legends, 'Gangavataran' or the descent of the Ganga (Ganges), happened at this time. Ganga, the eldest daughter of Himavan and Mena and sister of Parvathi was married to the gods in heaven but later brought down to earth by the great 'tapas' of Bhagiratha, grandson of king Sagara of Ayodhya. Ganga came down to earth reluctantly and Lord Shiva took her on his matted locks, to avoid the danger of Ganga's fury. She then descended to earth from the tangled locks of Shiva in seven streams. 

The source of the Ganga is at Gaumukh, a two day trek from Gangothri, Uttaranchal. Places such as Rishikesh, Haridwar, Garh-Mukteswar, Prayag, Varanasi etc where Ganga flows hold special significance on this day. 

Devotees flock to these places and Varanasi with its numerous ghats situated on the west bank of the Ganga, to touch the river water, bathe in it and take the river clay home to venerate. A bath in the river Ganga is believed to purify the bather of all sins and to die on its banks is considered most auspicious. If that is not possible, then the immersion of the ashes after cremation in the river Ganga is believed to release one from the cycles of birth and re-birth.

In Haridwar, 'aratis' are performed at twilight and a large number of devotees meditate on river banks. Ganga jal (water) is kept in sealed pots in homes by the devotees and is used on sacred days in sanctifying places. People who cannot reach Ganga banks on this day, bathe in some nearby tank or river invoking Ganga by chanting her name and offering prayers to her.

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