River Ganga is considered a Goddess in the Hindu religion. River Ganga is called “Devi,” or “Maa Ganga.” Today, you will come to know about one of the most important festivals of the River Ganges. It is called Ganga Dussehra. Here, we share with you the Ganga Dussehra Festival Importance and Date.
Ganga Dussehra Festival
Ganga Dussehra, also known as “Ganga Avataran,” is a Hindu festival that commemorates (celebrates) the descent of the Ganges to the Earth. The Hindu religious texts say that the holy Ganges River descended to earth from the heavens on this very day. So, the Ganga Dussehra festival is dedicated to Goddess Ganga.
The Ganga Dussehra festival is celebrated on the Dashami Tithi (10th day) of the Shukla Paksha (waxing moon) in the Hindu month of Jyeshtha. So, the Ganga Dussehra falls in May or June. The festivities last for ten days and culminate on the holy day of Ganga Dussehra. Ganga Dussehra falls one day before Nirjala Ekadashi Celebrations.
King Bhagirath did immense penance and convinced Goddess Ganga to come to Earth. Thus, the Ganga descending to earth is celebrated as Ganga Avataran.
Ganga, for the Hindus, is the holiest and most sacred river. She is called Goddess Ganga or Ganga Maiya (Maa or Mata). The Holy Ganges is worshiped with the belief that Maa Ganga will wash away all humankind’s sins.
So, Ganga Dussehra honors the presence of the Ganga River in India. If we elaborate on the word “Dussehra,” then “Dus” means ten, and “Hara” denotes defeat. So, Ganga Dussehra means that the Holy Ganges washes away all the ten sins of humankind and helps you to attain salvation from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.
Importance of Ganga Dussehra
(Why is Ganga Dussehra Celebrated?)
According to Hindu Puranic literature, King Bhagirath’s ancestors required the Ganges’ pure and holy waters to attain salvation (Moksha).
So, King Bhagirath did an immense penance (Tapasya) to convince Goddess Ganga to descend to Earth from the Heavens.
However, the flow of Ganga was so powerful that she was unable to fulfill the wishes of King Bhagirath. However, Goddess Ganga told Bhagirath that if Lord Shiva sustains her flow in his locks (hairs), her flow will get reduced, and then she could easily descend to earth.
As told by Goddess Ganga, King Bhagirath started immense tapas towards Lord Shiva. Then, he started praying to Lord Shiva that He should hold the flow of the Ganges in his locks.
Eventually, Lord Shiva was pleased by the earnest worship of King Bhagirath. He agreed to sustain the immense flow of Ganges in these matted hairs (locks).
Now, Maa Ganga descended and filled the “Kamandalu” of Lord Brahma. After that, Lord Brahma discharged the waters of Ganga onto Lord Shiva’s hairs or locks. Then, Lord Shiva held Maa Ganga’s waters in his hair and discharged a small stream of Ganga onto the earth.
That’s why you can see pictures of Lord Shiva wherein he is shown holding the waters of Goddess Ganges. The holy waters of the Ganges gush out of Lord Shiva’s hair.
Once the Ganges descended to the Earth, King Bhagirath immersed the mortal remains (अस्ति) of his ancestors in the Ganges waters and helped them to get salvation or moksha.
The day when Mata Ganges descended to Earth, was the Dashami Tithi of Shukla Paksha in the Hindu month of Jyeshtha.
Now, this day is celebrated as Ganga Dussehra. It is believed that Maa Ganga descending from the Heavens brought holiness and purity to Earth.
So, Ganga Dussehra marks the descent of the Holy Ganges to the Earth.
Ganga Dussehra Katha
Lord Shri Ramchandra was born in Ayodhya in the Suryavansha Dynasty. Maharaja Sagar (महाराज सगर) was one of his ancestors. Maharaja Sagar was a great king (चक्रवर्ती सम्राट). He had two wives by name of Keshani and Sumati. Keshani had one son named Asmanjas. While Sumati had sixty thousand sons. Asmanjas had one son by the name of Anshumaan.
Asmanjas and the remaining sixty thousand sons of King Sagar were very cruel and ill-natured. However, Anshumaan was a kind-hearted human being. He believed in God and followed religious customs.
Maharaja Sagar got disheartened by his cruel and unruly sons. He declared Anshumaan as his successor.
Once, Maharaja Sagar held an Ashvamedh Yagna and left a horse as a ceremonial mark of his rule over the earth. However, Indra Deva deliberately got hold of the horse and hid it in the “Patal” Loka in the Kapil Muni Ashram.
Kapil Muni was in deep meditation and was not aware of this incident.
Meanwhile, the sixty thousand sons of Maharaja Sagar searched for the horse in the entire kingdom but could not find it. They dug through the earth and reached the Patal Loka to the Kapil Muni Ashram.
There they found the horse in the Kapil Muni Ashram. They got extremely angry with Kapil Muni and ran to kill him. However, Kapil Muni awakened from his deep meditation. His rays were so intense that all the sixty thousand Maharaja Sagar’s sons were burnt into ashes.
Now, this whole incident by narrated by Garud to Anshumaan.
Anshumaan reached Kapil Muni Ashram and started praising Kapil Muni.
Kapil Muni was pleased by the kind behavior of Anshumaan. He told Anshumaan that he could take away the horse and complete the Ashvamedh Yagna arranged by Maharaja Sagar.
Kapil Muni also told Anshumaan that if he wished to relieve the sixty thousand Maharaja Sagar’s sons from their sins, their ashes should be immersed in the Holy waters of the Ganges.
Anshumaan wanted to relieve the sixty thousand sons of Maharaja Sagar from their sins, so he handed the rule to his son Dilip and went to the jungles to do Tapas so that he could bring the Ganges from the heavens down to the earth.
However, Anshumaan was unsuccessful in his endeavor and died during the tapas. King Dilip, too, followed his father’s footprints and went for tapas after handing the rules of his kingdom to his son Bhagirath. However, King Dilip also died during the tapas and could not bring the Ganges onto the earth.
After King Dilip’s demise, Bhagirath did immense tapas towards Lord Shiva to bring down the Ganga from the heavens. King Bhagirath was successful in pleasing Lord Shiva. Eventually, Goddess Ganga descended to Earth due to the immense tapas of Bhagirath.
As Goddess Ganga descended to earth due to the immense penance (tapas) of Bhagirath, She is also called “Bhagirathi.”
Ganges River eventually reached Kapil Muni Ashram, where the ashes of the sixty thousand sons of Maharaja Sagar were lying down. When the ashes got immersed in the holy waters of Ganga, they attained “Divya” form and went to the Divya Loka (Heavens).
Ganga Dussehra Celebrations
Ganga Dussehra is celebrated with much enthusiasm in various parts of the country, particularly in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal, where the River Ganges flows.
Major Ghats of Haridwar, Varanasi, Prayag, Rishikesh, Patna, and Garh-Mukeshwar witness Lakhs of devotees each year on the occasion of Ganga Dussehra.
Ganga Aarti is a major attraction for the pilgrims who gather at these Ghats of religious importance. All the devotees sing praises of Goddess Ganga, and devotees go for a dip in the holy waters of the Ganges. Their minds become clear and quiet. River Ganges nourishes and nurtures the devotees just like his children; many pilgrims return the Ganges water to their homes.
Ganga Dussehra festival is a day of immense devotion and faith for the Hindus. Those who cannot bathe in the Ganges’ holy waters perform Arghya near the river and then do Tarpan and Tilodak.
In the evening, devotees offer leaf boats with diya, sweets, and flowers to Maa Ganga. Devotees immerse themselves in singing and dancing with Bhajans and Kirtans. They chant slokas dedicated to Lord Shiva, Goddess Durga, and Mata Ganga. Even the sound of bells can be heard during the Ganga Aarti.
So, there is a spiritual atmosphere all over the banks of the River Ganga. Big Fairs are organized in places such as Prayag, Varanasi, Patna, and Haridwar. Kite-flying events are also followed in some of these places.
Devotees donate useful things like an umbrella, clothes, shoes, eatables, money, and various other things. It is said that whosoever bathes in the Ganges ten times during the auspicious occasion of Ganga Dussehra gets rid of ten sins or ten lifetimes of sins.
It is estimated that in 2017 almost 15 Lakh people celebrated the festival in Haridwar alone. The Ghats of Varanasi witness several rituals, such as Deep Daan and Maha Aarti. In Patna, an enormous garland of flowers is offered to the River Ganges.
Ganga Dussehra Date 2023
Ganga Dussehra will be celebrated on 30th May 2023, Tuesday.
Ganga Dussehra Puja Timings are as follows:
Dashami Tithi Begins: 11:49 AM on 29th May 2023
Dashami Tithi Ends: at 01:07 PM on 30th May 2023
As we reach the end of this post on Ganga Dussehra, we must say that River Ganga is the spiritual focal point for all Hindus.
Ganga Dussehra allows us to experience the immense grandeur and beauty of the Holy River Ganga. Thus, we get an opportunity to uplift our spiritual quest for the Divine.
Har! Har! Mahadeva!!
Har! Har! Maa Ganga!!