Significance and Observance Of Ganga Saptami
About Ganga Saptami
Ganga Jayanti or Ganga Saptami is dedicated to the worship of Goddess Ganga or Maa Ganga. An important Hindu festival, the day marks the rebirth of Ganga on the Earth. Ganga Saptami sees thousands of devotees offering prayers and taking a dip in the holy waters of Ganga at pilgrimage sites like Rishikesh (Uttrakhand) and Triveni Sangam (Allahabad). Ganga Aarti, deep daan and fairs are also held on this day.
Ganga Saptami dates
As per Hindu calendar, Ganga Saptami is celebrated on the seventh day (saptami tithi) during Shukla Paksha in the month of Vaisakh. According to the Gregorian calendar, the day falls in May. The day is observed with fervour, especially at holy places like Prayag, Rishikesh, Haridwar and Varanasi.
Rituals of Ganga Saptami
- On Ganga Saptami or Ganga Jayanti, devotees wake up before sunrise and take a holy bath in the sacred Ganges.
- Devotees worship and offer prayers to Goddess Ganga.
- Flowers and garlands, offered to the Goddess, are let loose in waters of the river.
- Devotees perform Ganga Aarti to evoke the Goddess and seek her blessings.
- At various Ghats of the river, hundreds of thousands of devotees come together to witness the Ganga Aarti.
- The ritual of ‘Deep daan’ is also performed, where devotees float a deep (diya) in the river.
- Devotees chant sacred mantras like Gayatri Mantra and Ganga Sahasranama Stotram to worship the Goddess.
Significance of Ganga Saptami
River Ganga is considered sacred in India. Ganga Saptami is celebrated with enthusiasm, especially at places where river Ganga as well as its tributaries flow.
- In Hindu religion, it is believed that a dip in the holy waters of Ganga absolves an individual of his/her past and present sins.
- It is also believed that if an individual is cremated close to the holy river, he or she can attain salvation.
- Natives affected by the ill-effects of Mangal should worship Goddess Ganga and take a holy dip in the river on Ganga Saptami to get relief from the negative effects of the planet.
Legend of Ganga Saptami
A legend states that Goddess Ganga first emerged from the perspiration of Lord Vishnu’s feet and secondly, she appeared from the Kamandal (ewer) of Lord Brahma.
Another legend associated with the birth of Ganga says that Goddess Ganga took rebirth on earth to cleanse the earth of the sins of the ancestors of King Bhagirath, who was the ruler of Kosala. The King, who was experiencing trouble, had sought the help of deities to get rid of his past karma and to purify the souls of his forefathers. After he sought penance, Lord Brahma assured him that Goddess Ganga will be born on Earth to help him. But it was feared that the surge of Goddess Ganga would completely destroy the Earth. Lord Brahma asked Bhagirath to request Lord Shiva to release the river from his hair to control the flow of Ganga. Impressed by devotion and true penance of Bhagirath, God Shiva agreed and thus Ganga took rebirth on Earth and that day is now revered as Ganga Saptami. Due to the legend associated with King Bhagirath, Ganga is also known as Bhagirathi.
During her transit, the surge of river Ganga wreaked havoc on the hermitage of Sage Jahnu. In his anger, Rishi Jahnu drank the entire waters of Ganga. After his anger subsided, he released Ganga from his ear and since that day Ganga Saptami is also famously celebrated as Jahnu Saptami.
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