The river Ganges was in heavens and it came to earth because of penance of Bhagirath. This is the reason, Ganga is also called as Bhagirathi. Ganga Dusshera celebrates this event of Maa Ganga coming to Earth from Heavens.
Ganga Dussehra takes place on Dashami (10th day) of the waxing moon (Shukla Paksha) of the Hindu calendar month Jyeshtha. The festival celebration lasts ten days, including the nine days preceding this holy day.
Ganga Dusshera is celebrated on the banks of this river, where devotees worship and offer aarti to Goddess Ganga. Haridwar, Varanasi, Garhmukteshwar, Rishikesh, Prayagraj, and Patna are the main locations of the celebrations of this festival.
Popular as the mother of Bhishma Pitamah, Ganga is the personification of the river Ganga and is worshiped by Hindus as the goddess of purification and forgiveness. Known by many names, Ganga is often depicted as a beautiful woman, riding a divine creature called Makara. Some of the earliest mentions of Ganga are found in the Rigveda, where she is mentioned as the holiest of the rivers. Her stories mainly appear in the post Vedic texts like Ramayana and Mahabharata.
How Ganga came to earth
King Sagara of the Ikshvaku dynasty performed a Ashwamedha yajna to prove his supremacy. Lord Indra became fearful over the results of the yajna, so he decided to steal the horse. He left the horse at the ashram of Sage Kapila, who was in deep meditation. King Sagar’s 60,000 sons (born of Queen Sumati), and his son Asamanja (born of Queen Keshini) were then sent to find the horse. When the 60,000 sons found the horse at Kapiladeva’s ashram, they thought he (Kapila) had stolen it. When they prepared to attack the meditating rishi (sage), Kapila opened his eyes. Because the sons of King Sagara had disrespected such a great personality, consequently, fire emanated from their own bodies, and they were immediately burned to ashes.
One of the grandchildren of King Sagar, hearing about the plight of his father and uncles, came in search of Kapila Muni and asked him for a solution to the problem, and was advised that the waters of the river Ganga would miraculously bring back the dead princes to life.
His descendant Bhagiratha, continued his efforts to bring the Ganga to the earth from the heavens to purify the ashes of his ancestors and bring them back to life
On knowing that his ancestors will reach swarga only if the pure waters of Ganga flow through their ashes, from his mother, Bhagiratha immediately left to Himalayas to do tapas for Lord Brahma.
After 1000 years of penance, Brahma appeared before him and blessed him with children and Ganga. However, Brahma suggested that none except Shiva can take the force when Ganga falls onto earth, and if not with that force earth will be washed away.
Bhagiratha began worshiping Shiva. A whole year passed. Pleased with Bhagiratha’s devotion Shiva took the force of Ganga and controlled her in his matted hair. For Bhagiratha it was another difficulty He again prayed to Lord Shiva to release Ganga down to earth. Ganga followed Bhagiratha shyly and slowly, like his daughter (Bhaagirathi
Ganga as Bhagirathi
· Bhagiratha brought Ganga to earth. That’s why she is also known as Bhagirathi.
· Bhagiratha ruled Ayodhya, long before the birth of Rama, the hero of the Ramayana.
· In pictures, we see Ganga’s face in Shiva’s hair. This is connected to the story you’ve just read.
· Ganga flowed out of Sage Jahnu’s ear. Therefore, she is also known as Jaahnavi.