Every summer, the Ganga Dusshera or Ganga Dashami festival venerates the auspicious occasion of the descent of the sacred river on earth from heaven. On this day, a dip in the holy river invoking the Goddess is said to cleanse all sins. A devotee worships by lighting incense and lamp, and offers sandalwood, flowers, and milk. Fishes and other aquatic animals are fed flour balls.
Ganga Dussehra celebrates the descent of Ganga from its heavenly abode to purge the land with its pure waters. Ganga Dussehra (or Ganga Dashmi) always falls in the Hindu month of Jyeshtha The day is also celebrated as Gangavataran (descent of Ganga). Celebrations stretch across 10 days starting on Shani Amavasya and culminating in Ganga Dashmi on the tenth day.
Ganga Dashmi Significance
Bathing in the waters of Ganga (Ganga snaan) on this day is considered extremely auspicious and is believed to absolve one of all their sins. Devotees throng to the banks of the Ganga for this ceremonial dip and also offer alms and charity.A person taking a bath on Jyeshtha Shukla Dashami is freed of ten sins. Three of these sins are related to actions, four to speech and three to psychology. A person is freed from all of them.
A bath should be taken in river Ganga on this day. If a person is unable to reach river Ganga, he may take a bath in a nearby river or a pond. A person should worship Goddess Ganga and should recite the following mantra :
“Om Namah Shivaya Dussheraye Narayanye Dussheraye Gangaye Namah”
After this, you should devote five flowers to Bhagirathi in order to thank him to bring river Ganga to the Earth. You should also recite the following mantra :
“Om Namo Bhagvate Aen Srin Shrin Hili Hili Mili Mili Gange Ma Pavaye Pavaye Swaha”
Those unable to take a dip perform a puja or aradhya on the banks of the holy river, the Dashapapahara shloka is chanted on this day and for those who are unable to bathe in the waters of Ganga, it is enough to bathe with water infused with a few drops of ganga jal. It is believed that listening to Adi Shankara’s Ganga Stotram also has beneficial effects in washing sins away and in finding peace of mind.
Celebrations and rituals that begin on the dark, moonless night finally culminate on the tenth day (phase) of the new moon.