|River worship. Oneindia Tamil|
|Hindu prayer in NE India. Commisceo Global|
In order to give a meaning to life, religions have sacred histories / mythologies and narratives, which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and symbols and holy places for pilgrimage and worship. The practicing religious beliefs may be at variance, however, in all of them "faith, besides reason, is the core of religion and a driving force".
Hinduism, the oldest religion in the world is a religion, or a way of life, widely practiced in South Asia. It is a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions with diverse roots. There is no founder of Hinduism unlike other religions. The strength of Hinduism lies in the fact that it gives utmost importance to all that is natural. In the ancient period, the Hindus recognized the divinity around them - in both living and non-living things. No doubt, Nature worship is part of Hinduism that gives due consideration to what is called "Pancha boothas"- five fundamental natural elements of "Nature". They are: water (jal), fire (agni), earth (prithvi), air (Vayu) and akasam (akash). No living things can survive on this earth even if one is missing. River-worshipping has been in vogue in India since Vedic times. Since rivers are closely associated with growth and evolution of human civilization, agriculture, food production, employment, etc., their presence in a country is vital for the welfare of the society. Hence, there are many Hindu festivals in India to glorify the rivers and to express our gratitude to them. The name Hinduism has its origin from the name of the River Sindhu.
The birth of great Epic heroes like Krishna, Bhishma, and Karna has close links with the holy rivers. In Judaism, the birth of Moses is associated with the Nile river. The name Hinduism has its origin from the name of the River Sindhu.
For Hindus the rivers are divine and and they support countless flora and fauna; every one of them is a manifestation of gods or goddesses, an embodiment of elixir of life. Hindus worship rivers as mothers - Mata or Nadima. Rivers do have a pleasant form - Saumya and unpleasant form - ugraha. When in spate and overflow into the flood plains, the rivers show their unplesant nature and cause destruction. Invocations are made by way of homams, etc., for the smooth flow of water through their courses. Taking a holy dip in the river marks the erasing of past sins and start of a new lease of life, full of vigour and vitality. Many well-known Hindu pilgrim centers (dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and some goddess) such as Kasi, Prayaga, Ujjain, Madhura, Badrinath, in the north and Srirangam, Kumbakonam, Thiruvaiyaru, Madurai, Vijayawada, Mantralayam, etc ., in the south are on the banks of holy rivers. Ayodhya, Lord Rama's birth place, is on the banks of the River Sarayu.
|Aarti on the banks of the ganges. www.thehindu.com|
Khumba-Mela, Pushkaram and Adiperukku (in Tamil Nadu) are some important festivals associated with the river. Even in this modern era, the divinity associated with the Indian rivers is just overwhelming. India is a Karma Bhoomi, hence, people world over come here for peace of mind and to experience the true spiritual ecstasy as material happiness does not give them happiness. In addition, the rivers represent the whole gist of life - fertility, motherhood, growth, cleansing, destruction, death and salvation. It is symbolic of the transient nature of life and worldly possessions.