Home > Digital Library > Index of Newsletters > Vol. III & IV 2004 >
The Celestial Journey of Ganga
Devottes throng the temple at Mukhba
When the Gangotri glacier freezes, when winter sets in, Mother Ganga travels to her winter abode, a few slopes down. She returns on Akshaya Dwitiya. The next day, Akshaya Tritiya, is one of the holiest days in Hindu calendar. It falls in the second half of April. It also marks the beginning of the thawing of ice and the softening of glaciers. The Gangotri temple opens for worship after the winter closure. Ma Ganga’s journey when she goes back to Gangotri is celebrated with rituals, music, dance, procession and worship.
The IGNCA has documented this ‘Celestial Journey’ from Mukhba to Gangotri. This journey has a recorded history of at least 700 years. Beyond this, we do not know for how many centuries this journey had been going on. Mukhba is believed to be Rishi Matang’s place of meditation. Three-four days before the journey, the villagers of Mukhba start preparations. The palanquin to carry the icon of Ganga is decorated with coloured clothes. There are colours that can be and cannot used. Green and red are the predominant colours used. At the top of the palanquin is the icon of Ganga, adorned with ornaments. The entire village gets busy with activity, preparing for the 25-km trek to Gangotri. Devotees come and take leave of Ganga, praying to her to come again the next year. Always, there are rains before the procession, an auspicious omen.
The decorated palanquin
The gods and goddesses from the adjoining villages also come in processions and present themselves before Ma
Ganga. Some of them accompany her to the border of their regions. Someshwar
Devta, her consort, too comes in an elaborately adorned palanquin. Ganga and Someshwar Devta meet at a point, where there are more celebrations. Persons, sanctified to carry the icons of the two gods dance in ecstasy swinging to the tune of the local musical instruments. The villagers believe that the spirit of the gods gets into them, which makes them swing thus, without falling.
The Temple of Mukhba
Copyright IGNCA© 2004