Ganga Saptami (2nd May 2017) is an event associated with the divinity of the Ganga River. She descended on Earth from her heavenly abode on this day, and it is also known as Jahnu Saptami or Ganga Jayanti. There is an interesting legend supported by important Hindu scriptures around the significance of this day. This occasion is celebrated with a lot of pomp in places like Allahabad, Prayag, Haridwar, Rishikesh and Varanasi; where the consecrated River Ganga and her tributaries flow. According to the Hindu calendar, it appears in the Hindu month of Vaishakha, which is April or May in the Gregorian calendar; on the seventh day of Shukla Paksha.
What is its importance?
According to ancient legends, it is said that Ganga was born from the perspiration of Vishnu’s feet and then later re-born from Brahma’s ewer. But Ganga Saptami is an important occasion where Ganga was reborn on Earth.
According to one legend, Raja Bhagiratha was the ruler of Kosala. He was facing a lot of trouble in his kingdom, which he believed was a result of his ancestor’s bad deeds. He then implored the Lords to seek redemption, realising that only the purity of the blessed Ganga could sanctify him. He undertook a penance to please Lord Brahma. Decades later, Brahma finally materialised and assured him that Ganga will descend on Earth. But there was a problem. Her surge would be so powerful, that the entire earth would get destroyed. He advised the King to implore Lord Shiva who is the only one who could control her flow. Finally, Shiva released Ganga from his head, so as to absolve the sins of Bhagiratha’s ancestors. She then descended on Earth and this day is celebrated as the Ganga Saptami Day. But on her way, she managed to wreak a sage’s hermitage. The sage called Rishi Jahnu, raging, ‘drank’ the whole of the Ganga. Only when he was pleased by Bhagiratha’s prayers did her release her from his ear; and therefore, this occasion is also known as Jahnu Saptami.