A Sacred River Profaned


A journey along the river that symbolises India, polluted by sewage and industrial waste and threatened by encroaching modernization.

In the holy cities, the faithful rise at dawn to perform their purification rites in the Ganges River: auspicious ablutions and offerings of incense, garlands of flowers, candles, prayers and devotional chants to cleanse themselves of their sins and earn good karma for future lives. In the industrial cities along the same river, hundreds of factories use the water for their production processes, only to flush it back into the river, putrid and contaminated. The modern-day Ganges is one of the five most polluted rivers in the world according to the article “Ganga is dying, pollution the killer” published by, yet it continues to be venerated like a goddess, sharing its Sanskrit name with the river goddess Ganga.

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