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Ganga river - Essay Example

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The Ganga is geo-culturally the most important water body in India (Trivedi , 2010). The cultural landscape of Ganga has largely influenced the cultural makeup of the country as such. It is often referred to as the cultural cradle of Indian civilization. Geographically, Ganga flows through a large stretch of India…
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Download file to see previous pages Here it must be noted that the whole population which lives on the river basin depends on Ganga for agricultural, domestic and industrial water consumption. Taking into account all these facts, it can be confirmed that Ganga as a geographical and cultural element, plays a very important role. To have a critical view on this role, it won’t be enough to limit the analysis to the physical, biological and environmental systems associated with the river. For any analysis to happen, it must be understood that sociologically, the river Ganga is more than a river for the people and the culture associated with it. There are a set of systems ranging from environmental to mythological which combines to constitute the landscape of the river. The objective of this essay is to analyze the role of Ganga as a socio cultural entity and to understand its changing ritualistic relationship with the community. The Geographic spread of Ganga In order to understand the cultural relevance of Ganges, it is primarily important to understand the geographic spread and details of the river. The river covers more than a quarter of the country’s landscape. It comes up to 26.3% of the total area of India (Trivedi , 2010). It is considered to be largest river basin. Ganagotri Glaciers are the primary source of origin of Ganga river. It flows through the Himalayas and flows down the country starting from Haridwar (Trivedi , 2010). Numerous tributaries join Ganga at different parts of its flow through the country. The Ganga-Brahmatutra-Meghna basin of which Ganga basin is a part stretches across to four countries including China, India, Nepal and Bangladesh. However, a major chunk of this lies in India extending up to 80% of the total basin. The river flows through the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, West Bengal Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh (Trivedi , 2010). Ganga as a sacred river The cultural landscape of the river has evolved in connection with the divine approach that the community associated with the river has linked with. To understand the socio ecological aspects in connection with the river it is important to understand the perception of the population connected with Ganga. The predominant socio religious concepts of India have considered water bodies as sacred. Rivers are perceived as “extensions and partial manifestations of gods” (Shiva, 2002). The Hindu mythology states that the existence of life on earth has been made possible due to the flow of heavenly water (Shiva, 2002). Connecting, this to the fact that, Himalayas, where The Ganga originates from is considered to be heaven, the mythological relevance of Ganga as a scared river can be assumed. The sacredness of Ganga has been nourished by the socio cultural ambience of the places through which it flows. Ganga flows through a number of scared cities including Haridwar, Rishikesh, Badrinath, Gangotri, Kedarnath, Varanasi and Allahabad. This stretch of landscape stretching across the Himalayan zone and the Indo-Gangetic plain creates an ecological system which connects to the Hindu mythology. This ecological system spreads beyond a physical space. It is a combination of natural resources, mythical concepts, religious structures, biological systems and rituals (Shiva, 2002). The Socio-cultural landscape of Ganga As mentioned earlier, the landscape of Ganga ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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