This river that runs for 1,560 miles from the Himalayas all the way to the Bay of Bengal is more than just flowing water. The river is Ganga Ma, "Mother Ganges." Her name and her story is known all throughout the land. It is the story of how she poured herself down from heaven upon the ashes of King Sarga's sons. Her waters would raise them up again to dwell in peace in heaven. Not only that, but anyone who touches these purifying waters even today are said to be cleansed of all sins.
Cremation anywhere along the Ganges is desirable. If that is not possible, then the relatives might later bring the ashes of the deceased to the Ganges. Sometimes, if a family cannot afford firewood for cremation, a half-burned corpse is thrown into the water. For the living, bathing in the Ganges is just as important. Hindus will travel miles and miles to have their sins washed away in these holy waters. For years Hindus have declared that there is nothing quite as cleansing as the living waters of the River of Heaven.
This "pure" water is suppoce to wash their sins away. The river Ganges draws all kinds of people and life seems to continually be bustling at its side. On the platforms and ghats are barbers cutting and trimming hair, and children flying their kites. You may see young men wrestling, exercising, or in deep meditation. Washermen are beating their clothes on stones at the edge. Multi-colored saris and all sorts of wet clothes are laid out to dry in the sunshine.
Unfortunately, with all the life the Ganges brings, pollution is also brought. Some of the worst waterborn diseases are dysentery, hepatits, and cholera. Money is being raised by the government and other groups such as the Swatcha Ganga to clean the Ganges. None the less, the Ganges is still the purifying waters for the Hindus of India.
View photographs at www.kristianbertel.dk