Monday, February 12, 2007

‘Destroyer of sin’ is a breeding ground for diseases!

Lexington Herald- Leader: Among believers, the river has many names: The Pure. Destroyer of Sin. Light Amid the Darkness of Ignorance. But mostly they call it "Ganga Ma" -- Mother Ganges -- and they worship it with a blinding intensity.
They worship it despite the islands of garbage that float down its path, and the tons of chemicals dumped in it. They worship it despite the quarter billion gallons of sewage poured into it every day, spreading illness among the 350 million people -- some one-twentieth of the world's population -- who live in its watershed.
For Hindus, the Ganges is a living goddess, capable of washing away sin. But its troubles are as epic as the river itself. And as millions of people filled a vast tent city on the floodplains outside this north Indian city, gathering for a Hindu festival that pays homage to the river, it was the goddess's troubles that grabbed attention.
"She is my mother," said Chandra Madash, a holy man squatting by a fire on a cold night. His beard was long and dirty, his clothing frayed, his voice gravelly. He has spent nearly his entire life in a remote Hindu monastery. "Even if she is dirty I love my mother."
Then he asked: "How can people do this to her?" Perhaps predictably, in a country that straddles the ancient and the modern, it was a group of Hindu holy men in the middle of the battle. They filed lawsuits, called news conferences and organized protests. A handful threatened suicide.
"The government has promised us they would stop dirty water from flowing into Mother Ganges but it's still being done," Narendranand Saraswati, a monastery leader, told thousands of cheering followers gathered by the Ganges.

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