What are stotras according to Hinduism
According to ancient belief, a bath in the Ganges can not only have a beneficial effect on physical ailments, it can even wash away all sins. The water of the river and its many different arms is bottled and taken home. It serves as holy water in all Hindu rites and as the basis for all spiritual cleansing.
There are countless places of pilgrimage along the river, such as Haridwar, Varanasi (previously called Benares) as the most important place of pilgrimage and Allahabad with the gigantic Kumbh Mela water festival. Countless small and large festivals take place on the water during the year. The ghats, broad staircases on the banks, offer important places of worship. Devout Hindus come here every day to take a bath with prayer and thereby purify the body and mind. The bodies of the deceased are cremated in specially reserved places on the bank. The ashes are then sprinkled into the water. Old statues of gods, sacrificial material from church services and other sacred things are also given to the elements here.
Ganga is also found as a portrait, personified as a graceful young girl, portrayed with the crocodile-like Makara as Vahana (companion animal). Nevertheless, the main admiration is for the water.
Pollution of the river is a concern
The river, which is around 2,600 kilometers long, is not only India's spiritual lifeline, but also an economic one. Chemical residues from industry and agriculture, the agricultural sector's demand for more and more irrigation, and uncleared waste from megacities have now polluted the water so much that the pollution has long since reached a critical point. In the Indian Ministry of the Environment there is a department that deals exclusively with the rehabilitation of the corridor. However, this does not detract from the river's importance as a goddess.
Hymn to Mother Ganga
It is said that whoever is devoted to you
death cannot harm.
Who drank of your clear water,
surely reaches the highest place.
O Jahnavi! O Ganga!
Redeemer of the stumbled,
whose waves are beautiful
Protector of the Fallen,
be praised in the three worlds!
O Ganga who goes to the ocean
Whoever worships you is free from sorrow!
Who bathes in your rivers, O mother,
will never be born again.
O protector from hell! O Jahnavi! O Ganga!
O destroyer of sins! You are sublime in your size!
Extract from the "Ganga Stotra", ascribed to the philosopher Sankara
Review article on Hinduism
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