On Dasashwamedh Ghat in Banaras, people jostle with each other to touch the holy waters of the river Ganga. Old people take careful steps, while younger ones jump into the river from a height, slapping, playing, and laughing. Some mutter prayers to Goddess Ganga as they take dips ritualistically amidst the flotsam of rituals, decayed flowers and pieces of bones and plastic kiss the corners of the ghats. Cows munch on garbage while tourists crane their cameras from boats, their fingers pressing the button for panicked clicks. It’s a chaotic scene that celebrates life and death in an endless cycle.
She’s a goddess who travels through three worlds
For the river Ganga, with a whopping 2,525 kilometers of length that begins in western Himalayas and continues through the Gangetic plains into Bangladesh and then the Bay of Bengal, is not just a river for Hindus in India. She’s a goddess who travels through three worlds, making her an important highway if you want to reach either Heavens or Netherworld from Earth. In Sanskrit, Ganga is also called Triloka-patha-gamini or Tripathaga, or one who travels the three worlds.