Debate over immersion of ashes in Ganga

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Dehradun : The last ritual in the life of an individual, immersing the ashes in the Ganga, has taken an unholy turn. The godmen and religious community involved in the rituals in the holy cities of Hardwar and Rishikesh, have raised the controversy on whether immersing the ashes in Rishikesh is proper as per Hindu mythology.

The controversy took birth following the immersion of the ashes of the mother of the Sufi singer Kailash Kher at Parmarth Ghat in Rishikesh recently. Swami Chindanand of Parmarth Niketan, who performed the ritual said that Kailash Kher, was attached to Rishikesh since childhood and it was only proper that he held the last holy rites of his mother in the city.

However, the godmen and community performing such rituals in Haridwar did not take the incident lightly and not only condemned Swami Chindanand for not following the traditions in practicing such rituals as laid out in the scriptures, but also burnt his effigy.

Though a section of the people see commercial interests in the controversy as the almost 10,000 strong godmen and members of the community involved in conducting such rituals in Hardwar do not want them performed elsewhere, as it will mean loss of income, but those involved quoted verses from the holy books to press home their point.

Those in Haridwar, quoting scriptures, claim that the immersion of the ashes can only be done in the hold city as per Hindu religion. However, Swami Chindanand took the plea that any such rites could be done along the banks of the Ganga anywhere from Gau Mukh in Yamunotri to Ganga Sagar in the Bay of Bengal.

Quoting Padam Puran, ‘pandas’ of Haridwar say that Har-ki-Pauri and Brahm Kund in the holy city are the only places for such rituals as per the scripture. But those of Rishikesh claim that the holy river retains its sanctity only till the mountainous tracts of the city, whereafter it enters the plains in the form of a canal. Thereby for such religious rituals the apt place is along the banks of the river from Gau Mukh to Rishikesh alone.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

2 Comments

  • Please note that Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, the President of Parmarth Niketan, did not perform the rituals. They are always performed by the brahmins/priests. He simply attended the end of the puja to offer comfort and solace to Kailash Kher’s family. Also please note that His name is Swami Chidanand, not Swami Chindanand. You have added an extra “n” before the “d”. Also please note that Gaumukh is near Gangotri, not near Yamunotri as you’ve written. Thank you so much.

  • Om Prakash Sharma says:

    Last rituals are to give the departed soul and body is the part of the earth. It does not seems that what ever the place and where the soul has left the body, and where to body is. There are Hindu belief that the Varanasi is the best place in the World to separate for the body and soul. So many Hindu goes to Varanasi in the last days of their lives and stay there till the end. The Ganga was holy river in the world, but now it is worst polluted river. I visited all over the world and found the Ganga at Haridwar or Rishikesh or Varanasi is no more clean as it should be. The politicians are so currupt they promise to clean the Ganga and eat away the money allotted to clean it. All cities along the rivers does not care for the cleanliness. They dump all the sludge in the Holy river with caring what they are doing. The worst is at Kanpur where the tanneries factories are putting all the chemicals into Ganga, that all the fishes breath their last breaths. Who care for dead or livings ? It is matters of fact to see. The old generation who cared for the clean Ganga is breathing their breath and what will happening to the next generation only the God will tell. I wish that Delhi should learn lessons from the civilization lost, what will happen to Hindu civilization. In the Southern India the Christians and other religions converting the Hindus to other faiths by giving them money and some medicines in the name of Father. India needs the Hinduism or Hinduism needs India as that we should not fight for Rishikesh or Haridwar but keep them Holy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.