Describe some of the sacred rituals that take place along the Ganges River.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Ganges occupies much in way of significance.  It is said that a devout Hindu must make at least one pilgrimage to the Ganges river before they die.  One of the most basic reasons for this is that the ritual of bathing in the Ganges is considered to be the penultimate action of washing one of all of their sins.  Located in Varanasi, one of the abodes of Lord Shiva, the Hindu devotees who flock to the Ganges River do so as a way of seeking to bring some level of peace to their lives.  Hindus believe that the Ganges River is the Goddess Ganga, herself.  This is why one of the morning rituals of the river involves blessing the river, itself, with the offerings of flowers or small oil lights placed upon the water.  The ritual of cupping the water, holding it to the morning sun, the God Surya, and releasing it back to the water is another ritual that one can see many Hindus perform in the morning and throughout the day.  Probably the most powerful ritual of the Ganges River would involve the disbursement of ashes in the river.  The desire for the soul of a loved one to achieve moksha, or peach through liberation, is the motivation in this ritual.  As stated in the Mahabaratha:

If only the bone of a person should touch the water of the Ganges, that person shall dwell, honored, in heaven.

This idea represents one of the most commonly practiced and revered rites or rituals of Hindus in relation to the Ganges River.  For a Hindu, the Ganges is one of the most potent sources of both devotion and salvation on Earth and the rituals practiced reflect it.