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Pollution Is Killing India’s Holy Ganges, Harming Hindu Devotees

First Posted: Mar 21, 2017 01:53 AM EDT
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INDIA-RELIGION-FESTIVAL

Photo : SANJAY KANOJIA/AFP/Getty Images

The west bank of the Ganges River referred to in Hindi as Ma Ganga or Mother Ganga, or simply Ganga-in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi is India's oldest city and thought to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. Mark Twain, upon visiting in the 1890s, quipped that it's "older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend.

According to News Week, Varanasi has also known as the religious capital of India and stands for Hinduism. Millions of Hindus want to die or at least have their ashes spread in the Ganges. "In doing so, they believe they can break the perpetual cycle of samsara, of birth and rebirth, and thus achieve moksha, eternal liberation."

As per Telegraph, Despite government measures to reduce the human and industrial waste from leather factories upstream, the impact of more than 80 million worshippers bathing in the river and camping on its banks had dramatically raised organic pollution to dangerous levels.

Uttar Pradesh has built a vast temporary city of campsites, police stations, hospitals and shopping centres to cope with the numbers, which also includes its own sewage systems. It pledged to build 35,000 lavatories and raise the water levels in the Ganges and Yamuna to wash away waste quickly.

Regardless of the pollution, Hindus have a deep believe that bathing in the Ganges will purify them and help them achieve their desired Moksha, an end to continual reincarnation.

Thousands joined in the Ganga Aarti festival, a spiritual gathering that happens every evening at dusk for worshippers to receive the blessing of Ganga. And that's when it realised how bad things really were: The celebratory rituals used to laud the Ganga involve poisoning her.

The pollution has also slowed down or made stagnant many once free-flowing areas of the Ganges. Stagnation is where the mosquitos thrive, and mosquitos bring malaria. The deadliest form of malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, is on the rise in India, and the worst may be yet to come. This need to be stopped, in the name of spirituality people can't risk others life.

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