Mythologically, the significance of the River Ganges has been portrayed in Ramayana. Read the story behind the descent of River Goddess, Ganga on the terrestrial land of the Earth.
1. Once, there was a King named Bhagirath, who meditated before Lord Brahma for 1000 years to save the souls of his ancestors.
2. Pleased by his devotion, Brahma granted him a wish: the King requested the Lord to send the River Goddess, Ganga, down to Earth from the heavens.
3. He wanted Her to flow over the ashes of his ancestors, washing away their curses and allowing each one to enter heaven.
4. Brahma granted his wish but requested the King to first pray to Shiva, for Shiva alone could support the weight of the descent (falling) of Goddess Ganga.
5. Accordingly, King Bhagrirath settled down to pray to Shiva. Lord Shiva agreed that Ganga could descend to Earth through his twisted locks of hair.
7. In Hindu culture, this legend is re-enacted by a ceremonial ritual known as bathing the Shiva Lingam.
Ganga is thus known as the Holy River of India. Spiritually it is considered essential for Hindu families to discharge the ashes of their loved ones into the peaceful flow of Ganges.