Ganga Dussehra is celebrated in the month of June, called as Jyeshtha as per the Hindu calendar. Rishi Bhagirath took many years meditating to convince Ganga to come on earth. This 10-day celebration takes place to commemorate Ganga’s descent to earth, known as Gangavataran. The sacred river to Hindus ‘Ganga’ holds a special place for the Indian. Ganga is considered as the most holy and sacred rivers in India. This river is worshipped, with a belief that Goddess Ganga can wash away all sins of mankind.
The first 10 days of June are very well justified to honour the presence of Ganga River in India. The name Dussehra comes from ‘Dus’ which means ten and ‘Hara’ which connotes defeat. Thus, it is believed that praying on this day can help you attain salvation from 10 sins.
Ganga Dussehra is celebrated at major ghats of India such as Varanasi, Allahabad, Garh-Mukteshwar, Prayag, Haridwar and Rishikesh. Amidst hundreds and thousands of pilgrims, the priests perform aartis to goddess Ganga. Another priest beside him poured water on his heavily cloth wrapped hand, which protected him from the burns. All one can hear is pilgrims and pundits praising and singing goddess Ganga. The air around had the fragrance of flowers.
The Ghat stairs are very slippery as the several devotees take a dip in Ganga. By twilight, the river starts flowing with immense force. But, this doesn’t stop the pilgrims to take a dip. It is said that after one dip, your mind turns clear and quiet. Most of the pilgrims around always take this feeling back home.
River Ganga holds a lot of value mythologically, historically, religiously and economically for the Indians. It has nourished and nurtures millions of beings every day from her origin at Gangotri in Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. Ganga’s water is considered to be very sacred and is used by everyone for all Hindu rituals. Every Hindu would have a bottle or can of Ganga Jal, water of the river Ganga, in order to commence any hindu rituals at home.
This festival is celebrated on Jeyshta Masa’s Dashmi Tithi. Ganga Dussehra festival is a day of devotion and faith. If a person cannot bathe in Ganga, Ardhaya should be performed near the river, and then Tarpan and Tilodak. As the evening arrives, devotees start offering leaf boats with flames, sweet and flowers to the river. The pilgrims are seen all mesmerized with the shlokas, bhajans, kirtans and sound of bells during the aarti. This is a purely soothing spiritual experience.
Big fairs are also organized in various parts of India. Varanasi, Haridwar, Mathura and Allahabad are the major attractions during this time. Donation of useful things such as umbrellas, clothes, shoes and several other things that can protect you from the summer heat are auspicious.