The Transcendence of Reality
Ganga is a Hindu goddess. She is the personification of the river Ganges according to legend. As the legend goes, Vishnu wanted to get a measurement of the universe. Therefore, he stretched out his left foot to where the universe stopped. In the process, his toe tore a hole in the covering over the universe.
Vishnu caused the pure water, which was the goddess, Ganga, to eventually flow to Earth, creating the Ganges. Hence, the Ganges is considered a holy river in India. This form of animism explains how an inanimate object possesses something divine. Therefore, the river is divine; it is Ganga. The covering, or what we call firmaments, didn’t allow the waters above the covering through until Vishnu punctured a hole in it, which created the Ganges.
Depending upon the Hindu calendar, there is an annual celebration called Gangavataran or Ganga Dussehra, which means the descent of the Ganges to the earth. This major celebration extends for 10-days in late May or early June. In 2017, June 6 was the date for Gangavataran. This year, it occurred two weeks ago.
During the 10-day celebration, believers will move these lamps circularly as they pray to the Ganges and Ganga. This practice is called aartis, which means “to take away darkness.” This ritual attempted to bring light into the lives of Hindus.
That is also the reason for diyas, which are small clay floating lights, which are designed to bring light to a dark world.
However, the most important ritual is bathing in Ganges, because it is holy water. Hindus believe that bathing each day in the Ganges during the 10-day celebration will remove a sin each day.
However, when Hindus die, they are cremated, and the ashes are returned to the Ganges. Hence, the Ganges and Ganga are a major part of all Hindus.
What is intriguing about the Ganges and Ganga is one can see the drive of the ancient theologians had to explain the human condition. Interestingly, that drive to explain the unexplainable can be seen in all religions including Christianity. Early Christians used the term light to explain what that religion brought to the world living in darkness. Baptism did previously the same thing as bathing in the Ganges.
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