The Ganga

Ganga is one of the most important rivers of India: economically, socially and culturally & religiously. It is the third-largest river after Indus and Brahamputra with a length of 2704 kilometers and its basin size is 1,320,000 km2 (510,000 sq m). Ganga is considered a sacred river and worshiped as goddess by the followers of Hinduism since Vedic age. The river originates from the Gangotri glacier located in the state Uttarakhand(also known as Devbhoomi- the land of gods).

River Alaknanda and Bhagirathi converge at Devprayag in the Garhwal district and forms river Ganga. Bhagirathi originates from the Gangotri glacier of Gomukh and Alaknanda emerges from the peaks of Nanda Devi, Trisul, and Kamet ranges of Himalayas.  The other main rivers which merges in ganga are Mandakini, Dhauliganga, Nandakini and Pindar

Gangotri: The Origin of Ganga

Geography of Ganga

River Ganga passes through two countries India and Bangladesh, it originates from the Gangotri glacier and merges in the Bay of Bengal. The holy river passes through Uttarakhand, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal in India and Rajshahi Division, Dhaka Division, Chittagong Division, and Barisal Division in Bangladesh.

Cultural and Religious importance of the Ganga

In Hinduism, Ganga is one of the most sacred rivers and is considered a Goddess of forgiveness. One who takes bath in Ganga, the sins are removed from their life, and pilgrims take Gangajal to purify the homes and use it for worshiping and other rituals.  The other names of Ganga are Bhagirathi, Jahnavi, Nikita, Jaahnukanya, Sapteshwari, Sureshwari, Bhagvati, Urvijaya, Chitraani, Tridhara, Bhagirathi, Shubhra, Vaishnavi, Vishnupadi, Bhagvatpadi, Tripathaga, Payoshnika, Mahabhadra, Mandakini, Meghna, Meghal, Gangika, Gange, Gangeshwari and Alaknanda in Hindi and Sanskrit.

Devotees performing Ganga Arti at the bank of River Ganga

Origin

According to the religious texts, it is believed that initially, Ganga was flowing in SwargLok(haven) and King Bhagiratha went through deep penance to bring Ganga to the earth, the story starts as 60 thousand sons of King Sagara disturbed Sage Kapila when he was in meditation, in anger he turned all of them into ashes and only if the water of Ganga passes through the ashes they were supposed to be released from the Curse of Sage Kapila. These 60 thousand sons of King Sagar were ancestors of Bhagirath, after Bhagirath got the permission that Ganga can flow on the earth, a problem occurred, it was the turbulence of Ganga as Ganga was angry on being sent to earth, due to high turbulence if Ganga stikes Earth from Haven, the earth may get Shattered, so Bhagirath prayed Lord Shiva and asked him to receive Ganga in his Jatta(Curled hair) and then release it to the earth from Mount Kailash.
After Ganga landed on the Jatta of Lord Shiva and was released, she followed Bhagirath and that is why she was named Bhagirathi.
The major pilgrim places from where Ganga flows are Gangotri, Haridwar, Prayagraj(Prayagraj is the name of the place because Prayag means a place where rivers meet, and at this place, three rivers- Ganga. Yamuna and Saraswati cross each other), Varanasi. In Haridwar and Prayagraj, one can witness Kumbh Mela(One of the largest public gathering ceremonies across the globe) after every 12 years.

Scientific Researches and findings

The Purifying Ganga

As per the research done on the water of Ganga, scientists have found that the oxygen label of Ganga is 25 times more than any other river and it decomposes waste 15 times faster. According to a research done by British bacteriologist, Ernst Hankin demonstrated, A Virus was found in water which is responsible for killing bacterias which causes disease like Cholera, later it was named as Bacteriophages and this virus is present in the water from Gomukh.
The water of River Ganga contains many unexplored double DNA viruses due to which it is able to purify itself naturally.

Diversity and Ganga

Ganga flows through different states, all along Ganga one can witness various cultures way of worship, yoga and meditation techniques, people bathe in Ganga to purify themselves and at some places, the ash of burnt body is drowned in the river so that the person can get freedom from the cycle of birth and death. Ganga is not only a river, it connects various cultures and people from different places in a thread of similar faith and believes.

Economical Importance of Ganga

Ganga is not only the largest river but it flows through most populated states of India and at various places it is the main source of income in many ways, As Ganga is a holy river, pilgrims visit regularly, which creates business opportunities for the people living in its vicinity as they can either sell Prashad or provide boating service/water sports to the national and international tourists. Additionally, the water of Ganga is used for irrigation purposes and various canals are made on it.

On average with the dams and hydropower projects on River Ganga and its tributaries, produces approximately 51,700 to 128,700 megawatts of electricity. The total number of powerhouses on the river is 56 for 39 hydroelectric projects.

Effect of Pollution on Ganga

The water of river Ganga is considered as Brahmadravya by the followers of Hinduism due to its purifying and healing qualities but with an increase in pollution and in the way that industries are disposing of their waste in the river in an uncontrolled manner, it is making the water of river more polluted and affecting the water diversity, due to increase in pollution at many places it is observed that aquatic life is not present anymore.
As this problem is created by humans we must rectify it because everyone has a limit, even gods have their limits. Ganga is suffering from extreme pollution at various places. To preserve Ganga and the culture associated with the river, we must not pollute it anymore and support the various organizations and governments working to preserve the holy river.

References:

  1. https://www.britannica.com/place/Ganges-River/Hydroelectric - power electricity production by Ganga.
  2. http://117.252.14.242/Gangakosh/Water%20Resources/hydropower.htm#:~:text=With%20extensive%20monotonous%20regions%20andIndia's%20overall%20hydroelectricity%20portfolio  Total number of powerplants and hydro power projects on Ganga