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May 31, 2012

Hindus celebrate Ganga Dusshera festival in Varanasi

Varanasi: Thousands of Hindu devotees converged on the banks of River Ganga in Varanasi on Thursday to celebrate the Ganga Dussehra festival which marks the day when the Goddess Ganga descended on earth through the locks of Lord Shiva. Mahant Brijmohan Das, a priest, said: "Today, is the festive occasion of Ganga Dussehra. Today only, Mother Ganga descended from the 'jata' (locks) of Lord Shiva to come down to earth. The Ganga flows in a north direction in 'Kashi' (ancient name of Varanasi city). This is why, in Kashi, this day is significant. Those devotees, who took a holy dip in Ganga River , will get rid of all their sins." Priests performed traditional Hindu rituals and chanted hymns on the banks of the river. Women and girls offered prayers for the well being of their families. "This festival holds importance for the people. It's a grand and fortunate 'aarti' (a religious ritual of worship). This 'aarti' holds significance for the girls," said Meenakshi Upadhyay, a devotee. Thousands of devotees assembled on banks from the crack of the dawn to take a holy dip and sought the blessings of the Goddess Ganga to get rid of their sins. A social organization called the Ganga Sewa Nidhi organised an environment awareness programme with an aim to save the River Ganga. Legend says that the Ganges was gifted to mankind in answer to the penance undertaken by King Bhagirath, of the legendary Sagara dynasty. Bhagirath prayed for the Ganges to descend onto the Earth to wash the ashes of his dead brothers to give them salvation. The Ganga is also called Bhagirathi after the king. The Ganga is the most sacred river of the Hindus and act as the lifeline to millions of people who live along its banks.

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