Ganga Sapthami is the festival marking the second arrival of river Ganga on the earth. The festival is celebrated in the regions where the river Ganges flows.
Ganga Sapthami occurs on the Shukla Paksha Sapthami of Vaishaka month. For the Year 2022, the festival is on Sunday, 8th May 2022. The exact duration of the Sapthami Tithi has to be ascertained from the respective regional calendars.
Table of Contents
Ganga Sapthami – Legend
The descending of Ganga on the earth occured due to the efforts of King Bhagiratha. As per the legend, there was a King named Sagar. He was the ancestor of Raghuvamsa. Bhagwan Ram belongs to this lineage.
King Sagar did Ashwamedh Yagnas frequently. As per the ritual, he used to send his horse to roam around the earth. Once it returned unchallenged, he would do the Yagna. Like this, he did Ashwamedh Yagna 99 times.
100th time Yagna
He wished to do the Yagna for the hundredth time. So, he sent out his horse for going round the earth. Lord Indra who was jealous of King Sagar, wanted to disrupt the Yagna.
Indra had caught the wandering horse and kept it in Sage Kapila’s ashram.
Search for the horse
Not knowing the whereabouts of his horse, King Sagar had sent around his Princes consisting of his sons and nephews to find and fetch the horse. They went to several places and at last found the horse in the ashram of Sage Kapila.
The Princes had mistaken that Sage Kapila had usurped the horse. They started attacking him. Sage Kapila was enraged. In his anger, he made them all burn.
Bhagiratha was one of the grand children of King Sagar. He heard about the death of the Princes. He mourned for his uncles and grandfather. He approached Sage Kapila and requested for forgiveness. He requested the Sage to revive the Princes.
Sage Kapila said that he could not revoke what he had done. He lamented that if Bhagiratha could bring the river Akasha Ganga to earth, there was a chance for the revival.
Penance on Sri Brahma
Bhagiratha did penance on Sri Brahma to bring down the Akasha Ganga. Sri Brahma was pleased with his penance. He appeared before him. But, when Bhagiratha made his request, He said, “I appreciate your concern. I am helpless in this matter. Please do penance on Bhagwan Shiva. He will help you”.
Penance on Bhagwan Shiva
As directed by Sri Brahma, Bhagiratha did penance on Bhagwan Shiva. Bhagwan Shiva appeared before him. He was pleased with his noble cause. He had consented to bring Ganga to the earth.
Bhagwan Shiva’s gesture
When river Ganga started flowing on earth, She was very ferocious and heavy. So, Bhagwan Shiva had spread out his thick matted hair and asked Ganga to arrive through it.
After coming through Bhagwan Shiva’s hair She had become manageable.
The first descent happened on Jyeshta Shukla Paksha Dashami.
When Ganga was treading Her way to the Kingdom of Bhagiratha, She had immersed the Ashram of the Sage Jahnu in deluge. The Ashram was destroyed.
Sage Jahnu got furious and he had drank up all the water of Ganga. King Bhagiratha ardently requested Sage Jahnu to release the Ganga so that She can accomplish Her mission. Even the other Devas had prayed to the Sage.
Release of Ganga
The Sage was pacified. He had released the river Ganga through his ears on Vaisakha Shukla Paksha Sapthami day. As She had emerged from his body, Ganga is also considered as the daughter of Jahnu Maharishi. Hence Ganga is also called as Jahnavi.
The re-emergence of Ganga occurred on Vaisakha Shukla Sapthami day.
Ganga Sapthami – rituals
People take holy dip in the Ganga. Ganga Aarti is done at the ghats of Ganga. The river is worshipped with flowers. Ganga Shoba Yathra is also conducted.
It is considered auspicious to donate lamps on this day.
Ganga Sapthami – other names
This festival is also called as Ganga Pujan and Ganga Jayanthi.