Mother Gaṅgā

by Kay

We remove our shoes before approaching the River Ganga. This river is a temple, her water holy.

Families gather on wide marble steps leading to the river banks. Men strip to the waist to swim. Mothers pull up their sarees to rest their legs in the cool water. Little boys jump in naked. Bathing in her waters washes away sins.

As the sun sets, steps fill with pilgrims. Music begins. The chant is familiar, if only because of George Harrison’s 1971 song “My Sweet Lord.”

As the sun sets across the Ganges, oil lamps are lit. Arms lift in praise. Lamps pass high over our heads and our arms stretch upward toward the fire. We waft smoke–a symbol of our praise and thanksgiving–toward our hair.

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