Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ganga: A Mother and a River

 She is Ganga. Indians call her mother. She flows through our history books and is steeped in our cultural unconscious. She overflows our spiritual lives even today--whether at her banks or through her waters. She is the fulcrum of contemporary social lives for many. We call her Ganga Ma--the river of our hearts.

 Not just humans, even buffaloes come to take a dip in her waters. Bill Aitkens, in his book Seven Sacred Rivers, mentions noting the dirt in the water and his friend remarking: "It isn't the water that is dirty. It's the rubbish in it." He writes: "Love was greater than truth. Feelings for the goddess Ganga overcame everything else."
 Yet, one cannot ignore the contradictions in Indian love affairs with their rivers. There one venerates and seeks heaven and forgiveness through a dip, and there s/he throws the vilest of rubbish into her. The river and her banks is also one of the longest garbage dumps of India.

 Yet, just a small effort-like not using plastic bags or plastic cups can go a long way to clean up rivers. In the above pic, plastic bags and cups were banned at a Ganga Mela in Makdoompur, Uttar Pradesh. The hawker above is using paper sheets to serve his patties.

 Look at the result. What is interesting in the above pic is the absence of rubbish and plastic thrown around outside the tents. Remember this is an inter-village fair.

Even areas around the cattle is quite clean. A small step goes a long way.

If you are planning to travel to Ganges, please be aware of what you leave behind. Not nice to slap the mother you love.

If you want to be support the Ganges Water Community (Gangajal Biradari) in their efforts to recover and rejuvenate Ganges, please follow them on : or email:


  1. So Urbanisation is not development :)

  2. गंगा किनारे गंगा दशहरे पर उत्सव जैसा माहौल हो जाता है।

  3. Oh.. Bhavana dear,what fine ways you find to write sensitive and sacred issues.

    The river is the mother, and the folks who have been using for centuries understand and follow the rules. It the urbanites who do not care.

  4. A small step goes a long way, indeed. A little awareness also helps. Lovely captures, Bhavana. I love Ganga ma, but only when she is in the hills!

  5. Manas Ranjan MishraDecember 7, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Let's love her full. Now about the mistakes people committ. Let us approach them with forbearance. With a little empathy before their ignorant-self we will be winners of their hearts and their minds for sure. Let's gell together properly first before we correct others. Say proudly like me - I shall follow you....

  6. beaaaabbbtttiiifuuullll indeed, the exact way i spelled the word wen i saw dis pic, spectacular


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