The Mystique of Ganges, The Holy River of Varanasi

CompanyThe MOB
PhotographerDONELL GUMIRAN
PrizeSilver in Deeper Perspective / Deeper Perspective
Entry Description

The aura and awesome power that surround the Ganges River, has made Varanasi, a major religious hub and center of pilgrimage in India. Its history, tradition, culture and beliefs flow and unfold everyday before the eyes of pilgrims and tourists, as they flock in the banks of the most sacred river to Hindus - the Ganges River. This is where every Hindu would wish to die, be cremated and have his ashes thrown in its waters. The 2,525 km (1,569 mi) river is the “lifeline” to millions of Indians living along its course being their source of water, food and other daily needs. A believer would be blind to the sight of industrial, human and animal wastes floating on its sluggish green water. The smell of filth of corpses and cremated bodies dumped daily into the river is nothing but a breath of salvation from sin and escape from the cycle of reincarnation. The sense of euphoria as one touches and dips his feet in the water, could even bring him to the drowning level of the river. They would bathe in it and even drink from it, to be purified and cleansed even if it is the most polluted river in the world. The faith and belief of Hindus on the mystique of the Ganges River defied Webster’s definitions of “sacred and holy”, of “purifying and cleansing”, and of “lifeline and salvation”: What is sacred and holy for them, is also their basin of wastes, What is cleansing and purifying for them, is the dirtiest of all rivers, What is lifeline to them, could now cause disease and even death. The Ganges River is where the grim and the gross become a source of hope and assurance for the soul of the Hindus ….. where contradicting life-meanings become positively synonymous to their reality.