September 2020 \ News \ TRAVEL COLUMN: SUNDARBANS

After a holy bathing festival at Sagar Island ...

By Susan M. Griffith-Jones
  • Susan making a ‘Namaste’ where Ganga meets the ocean at Sagar Island, Bay of Bengal, India

After a holy bathing festival at Sagar Island, I’m now out on the ocean in a small wooden fishing vessel. A calm expanse of water. Mother Ganga merged with Father Ocean. A 13-year journey, thousands of miles from Gaumukh, her acknowledged source in Uttarakhand where I lived for some years in the Indian Himalayas, to where I am right now, at the Bay of Bengal. Only now, at the end of this, here, I ironically reach the start of her mythology.

…“The thousand sons of King Sagar disturb the meditation of the sage Kapil Muni, whereby he awakens in a rage, burning them to cinders with fire pouring from his third eye. Their descendants thus beseech sprightly Ganga to come down from the heavens, to redeem the souls of their most precious kinsmen. After various communications between the gods and humans, Shiva finally catches Ganga’s flood of waters in his locks. Many Himalayan streams pour out of the mountains onto the plains of North India, blessing, nurturing, and maintaining the inhabitants. Reaching Father Ocean, Ganga purifies the ashes of the deceased…”