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Ganga: The Religious Challenges

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Bhavya Srivastava
Former TV Journalist | Member – International Association of Religion Journalists

Ganga maiyya me jab tak ye paani rahe… these lines were written as a film song but now become a praising bhajan for the most revered river of India, Ganges. The holy river which starts from Gangotri in Uttarakhand and perpetuates religious cities, fulfil soil demands, make a basin which produces multiple quality crops, covers many cities and washes sins of millions everyday.

Ganga is not only a river of beliefs, it has some inherent qualities of cultural amalgamation, heritage notions and diversity. The goddess Ganga of Rishikesh-Haridwar-Allahabad-Varanasi is a humble purveyor of Patna-Mokama-Behrampore and Kolkata. It gives vibrancy to many ghats and temples and hope to millions for a new phase of life everyday. It has the quality to attract anyone into her lap and create a natural connection. Ganga is known to us as a mythical character, from ages.

Ganga is facing numerous challenges today. It is now addressed by a central ministry with a heavy budget. So we can expect that very soon we see a river flowing with its wings and natural speed. From Gangotri to Rudraprayag it has many bottlenecks in shape of dams, in rishikesh and haridwar the old age traditions put her in a dilemma and when its enters UP, the real challenge of human ignorance kills its souls, the pollution by cities, in form of waste adds deadly pollutants to a river and is scientifically rejuvenated if it gets its flora and fauna, properly. Kanpur, Varanasi has a challenge for Ganga today.

We mostly know the reasons and responsibilities. When a religious city, temple and ghat is not clean, how can we expect a person/body/trust to questions his religious act of polluting a river, which is sacred by beliefs and also hold a tag of sin-washer. There are many arguments floated that religious practices didn’t harm Ganga, they actually help it to survive more piously. It has the capacity to rejuvenate day by day. The problem is the industrial pollution and waste water/sewer drainage of cities. Many reports also suggests due to the dams the flow of ganga has been barred and it has repercussions on its rejuvenating values. All religious cities has its share in polluting ganga a bit. Lets see how…

Take a Dip in Ganga is a belief and non challenging practice from ages. In one Kumbh, Central Pollution Control Board’s research revealed that due to large amount of bathing activities ganga gets polluted. The pollution is organic and bacterial. We have seen millions and millions of people taking bath on auspicious dates in the river, surely human body discharges some bacteria and it has adverse effects. And when millions take bath, you can imagine the water and the bacterial effects on the river.

We celebrate festivals like a king and end like a destroyer. We literally become Lord Shiva. And believe that a small city can hold thousands of pandals where deities placed for nine days later with lot of sound pollution become part of a river due to some religious beliefs. Paints, Insoluble materials, colours, metals, clothes, too much of soil now floating in the river, that never asked for this. Everyday tons of things at many religious cities poured into ganga in the name of faith.

Salvation is a wish of every religion prone hindu and a desire for every soul. So when you take a dip, you wash your sins and when you die, you emerge yourself in the river. Ash pouring in Ganga is a old age belief that die hard. Dead bodies of children, unmarried youths, Snake bitten person, leprosy ridden sicks and Jal Samadhi of religious gurus are still happening. Who can ask why to pollute Ganga after leaving this world?

Thousands of temples, ghats, ashrams, houses near ganga discharge tons of ritualistic, day to day waste for the river they pray, respect and earning livelihood in their name. Flowers, Clothes, Vermilion, Camphor and lot of insoluble waste is now the reality of our faithful way of polluting Ganga.

There are many who always speaks on fighting for river, Kanpur’s Eco Friends Cooordinator Rakesh Jaiswal always support the logic of ‘No Mans Land’, “Make 200 metres of ‘no mans land’ on both sides of ganga, use this land for plantation of trees. This can gives the river a new life”. Abhay Mishra, Author of Dar Dar Gange says “ We treat Ganga as a mother and believe it as a deity, so we become complacent that a supreme power has the capacity to take care of herself!, so we never change our ritualistic behaviour towards ganga”.

Ganga surely needs your prayers, faith and devotions. According to mythology it arrived on earth to wash your sins. One day when we only have these stories and the river become silent, you can understand how your religious immaturity cost a river, who always want to serve your deeds.

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Bhavya Srivastava
Former TV Journalist | Member – International Association of Religion Journalists
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