Ganga Saptami is a festival celebrated mostly in Northern India. It is also called as Ganga Pujan or Ganga Jayanti. It is said that on Ganga Saptami the holy river Ganga descended onto the earth. This day falls on the seventh day of the Shukla Paksha in Vaisakha month. On this day Maa Ganga is worshiped and her puja is done. The Ganga puja blesses a person by washing the sins of the person who does this puja. Some consider the puja equivalent to the Ganga Snaan (bath), this puja is also got done by people who are not able to go for the Ganga Snaan.
Ganga River is said to be the most holy and sacred river in India. Ganga Saptami is majorly celebrated in the areas where the river Ganga and its tributaries flow. On this festival, devotees take a holy bath in the Ganga River which is believed to be very promising
People offer prayers to Goddess Ganga and do several pujas and worships on this day. Arti of Ganga also observed at several ghats of the Ganga. 'Ganga Shobha Yatra' is organized at various ghats and many people take part in it. Devotees perform 'deepadan' on this auspicious occasion.
Legends of Ganga Saptami :
There is a captivating story behind the rebirth of Ganga River.
Once there lived a emperor called Sagara who was the ruler of Kosala. He was of Surya Dynasty and performed hundred 'Aswamedha Yagnas'. When he prosperously completes the hundredth yagna, he would become the king of Swargalok.
Indra, who was the king of heaven never, wanted this to happen. In view to make his status secure, he had stolen the sacrificial horse of the hundredth Yagna and hid it in the ashram of Sage Kapila. The sons of Sagara, about sixty thousand of them set out in look for of the horse and finally could find it in sage Kapila's ashram. They misinterpreted him to be the guilty and waged a war against him. The sage became angry, doomed all of them and burnt them to ashes.
Time went on. Many kings and emperors took birth and died in the same dynasty. One of them was Bhagiratha. By the time he moved towards the throne, there were many disruptions in Kosala. He thought that reason behind this is the multiplication of his fore father's immoral acts and wanted to do penance for their this act. This was possible only through River Ganga which is sacred and holy. Then Bhagiratha went to Himalayas and did deep meditation for thousand years to please Lord Brahma.
Lord Brahma then appeared in front of the king and assured him that Goddess Ganga will be sent to earth as he desired. But when she would descend, she would have a strong stream and would smash the whole earth. Therefore, Lord Brahma asked the king to please Lord Shiva who could control the river's flow. King then did meditation for Lord Shiva for one year and Lord Shiva conform to help him. He opened his hair and tied Ganga when she was flowing from the heaven. This day came to be celebrated as Ganga Saptami Day.
Rituals of Ganga Saptami :