Ganga is a sacred river and no religious acts are ceremonially complete with its involvement in some ways. It is said that even a single dip in this river removes all sins and facilitates moksha (liberation from the cycle of life and death). Immersion of ashes of the dead people in Ganga liberates them of their sins. In mythological literature, river Ganga is also viewed as a deity or goddess. Goddess Ganga is the goddess of purity, fertility, giver of riches and prosperity. She is born out of left foot of Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Vamana-Trivikrama, hence also called Visnupadi. She represents the flowing staircase to heaven and flows from Shiva’s matted locks so that her speed can be controlled and comes down gently to earth.
Goddess Ganga is pictured as a beautiful lady with white complexion, holding ‘purna-ghata’, a pot, that contains power of all three cosmic elemental regions: earth, water and sky in her both the back hands. Right hand is in Abhaya Mudra (protection) and left hand has a rosary; garbed graciously in a pink and blue tinged garment, adorned with beautiful jewels. There is a makara (crocodile) behind goddess Ganga. It is her sacred vehicle which is represented as half mammal and half fish with reptilian brain and dolphin like tail. Makara indicates how a human’s intellect outgrows fear on facing problems. This goddess faces these fears and uses makara as her conveyance to move forward on the path of growth, strength and beauty.
Bound to India’s culture and religion, it is a river worshipped by people as a mother who sustains life and cleanses sins. She is the quintessence of Vedas and embodied punya of great souls.