Kartik Maas, the eighth lunar month in the traditional Hindu calendar, is considered highly auspicious. On November 2nd, 2009, Hindus all over the world will celebrate Kartik Snan or Kartik Purnima, a day dedicated to the worship of Ganga Maa (Goddess of the Sacred Rivers). All through the month of Kartik (October-November), an early morning bath in a sacred body of water is considered highly meritorious. Bathing festivals are held at the Ganges, Yamuna and other sacred rivers. Some devotees camp near the banks of the holy rivers to pay homage to Ganga Maa and return to their distant homes upon termination of the month-long cleansing ceremony. Ganga is a perennial river and people have great belief in her divine powers of healing and regeneration. The Goddess is the embodiment of purity, piety and spiritual rejuvenation. For, She descended onto earth to rinse away the sins of mankind and to provide nourishment and sustenance. Maintenance and natural preservation of Ganga is largely connected to religious sentiment and cultural identity. Revolutionary leader, Jawaharlal Nehru, highlighted the river's significance in the following remarks: "The story of the Ganga from source to the sea, from old times to new is the story of India's civilization and culture."
The Times of India has recently reported that the dangerously high pollution levels of the Ganges and Yamuna may jeopardize Kartik Snan for pilgrims this year and years ahead if urgent action is not taken. Despite increased contamination, people across the globe have traveled to India to experience the spiritual awakening and divine ecstasy associated with taking the holy dip in the rivers.
The following videos depict devotees from far and near paying reverence to Ganga Maa. The first is of a group of New York pilgrims from the Shri Trimurti Bhavan (temple in Queens, NY) performing puja (making offerings) to the Divine Mother. The officiating priest of the ceremony is Pandit Chunelall Narine, brilliant authority on Hinduism and proponent of environmental protection. The second shows thousands of devotees joining in a collective Ganga Puja ceremony in Varanasi. Both of the short clips show that the mysticism associated with Ganga is ever alluring.
Kamini Doobay is a recent graduate from Barnard College of Columbia University. She is currently doing clinical research in the field of rheumatology at Hospital for Special Surgery, NY. Along with her interest in medicine and public health, she is passionate about
Kamini Doobay is a recent graduate from Barnard College of Columbia University. She is currently doing clinical research in the field of rheumatology at Hospital for Special Surgery, NY. Along with her interest in medicine and public health, she is passionate about environmental conservation and its relationship with religion and spirituality.
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