The Ganges River, located across North India and Bangladesh, play a pivotal role in Indian culture and spirituality. The valley or basin on which the river lies is one of mostly densely populated areas in the world, home to about 8.5% of world population. Human, as well as industrial waste, contribute to the extreme level of pollution in this region.
On a spiritual aspect, the Hindus hold the river Ganga sacred, and the river is worshipped and personified as a goddess.They thus believe that bathing in the river on certain occasions causes the forgiveness of sins and helps attain salvation.
If you’re looking for more facts, Wikipedia has a comprehensive entry on the Ganges River. If it’s a personal account of someone who has recently been on a boat ride down the Ganges River, check out Sabrina’s Floating Down the Ganges.
On my boat ride, we were also taken further down the River to the Assi ghat which is where all the cremations go down. On that particular night, 16 cremations could be seen by the burning fire pits along the ghats of the river. It was an extremely somber moment for all of us as we watched the flames shoot up into the nighttime sky. The smell of burning flesh wasn’t too appealing either.
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