Ganga Dussehra is celebrated on the tenth day of the waxing moon in the Hindu calendar month of Jyeshtha. The festival spans a period of ten days, encompassing the preceding nine days of celebration.
Ganga Dussehra will be observed this year, on May 30, 2023. According to Drik Panchang, the Dashami Tithi will begin at 4:19 pm on May 29 and will end at 5:37 pm on May 30, 2023.
It is also known as 'Gangavataran' and is a significant Hindu festival that marks the descent of the holy river Ganga to Earth. Devotees gather along the banks of the Ganges to offer prayers, perform rituals, and seek blessings from the sacred river.
Ganga Dussehra is dedicated to Goddess Ganga and is celebrated to commemorate the day when Goddess Ganga descended to the Earth to accomplish her mission to purge the cursed souls of King Bhagiratha's ancestors.
Before coming to Earth, Goddess Ganga used to reside in the Kamandal of Lord Brahma. King Bhagirath sought to purify the souls of his ancestors and grant them salvation. However, when he approached Lord Brahma for assistance, Brahma directed him to pray to Lord Shiva instead, explaining that bringing the mighty Ganga to Earth was a formidable task.
Responding to King Bhagirath's prayers, Lord Shiva managed to control the powerful flow of the Ganges, ensuring its descent to Earth without causing destruction. Ganga Dussehra thus, symbolises a significant event in Hindu mythology.
The religious festival marks the cleansing and purifying powers of the sacred river. The occasion is considered highly auspicious for Hindus, as it is believed that by immersing oneself in the sacred Ganga waters on this day, one can wash away their past misdeeds or sins and attain spiritual liberation.
Ganga Dussehra reminds the role of the river Ganga in the lives of Indians as a physical source of life and sustenance but also as a symbol of spiritual purification and salvation.
Varanasi is renowned for its lively festivities during Ganga Dussehra. Devotees take a holy bath in the river and participate in the enchanting Ganga Aarti held at the Dasaswamedh Ghat. This grand celebration is an unforgettable experience for everyone who wishes to get immersed in the spiritual significance of Ganga Dussehra.
To observe Ganga Dussehra, followers make pilgrimages also, to Prayagraj, Garhmukteshwar, Haridwar, and Rishikesh where they immerse themselves in the sacred waters of the Ganga.
Devotees wake up early in the morning, take a holy dip in the river Ganges (if possible), wear clean clothes and offer Arghya to God Sun. They offer incense sticks and flowers to the deity and start the puja. They chant holy mantras dedicated to Goddess Ganga and God Sun and pray for the well being of themselves and their family.