Amidst COVID 19 precautions, Ganga Utsav begins virtually with much fun and festivities

The much-awaited Ganga Utsav 2020 began today with Shri. Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General, National Mission for Clean Ganga sharing his connection with Ganga since childhood in conversation with Mahiya.  He said, “This festival is to celebrate the glory of National river Ganga. Only if the younger generation is made aware of her ancient history and cultural significance, they will revere her not just as a source of water but as an integral part of our civilization.” We need to do our kartvva (duty) towards Ganga along with our deep rooted astha. Ganga represents all rivers and sources of water and festival is designed to be a river festival too, he added.

Day 1 of the Utsav was buzzing with diversity of events. One could not escape the devotion for Maa Ganga in voice of Dr Revati Sakalkar, Indian semi-classical vocalist. The Kashi Kokila brought river before the audience through her bhajans starting with “Chalo man Ganga Yamuna teer”.

 In Kahani Junction, legendary storyteller Rituparna Ghosh’s“Whose River Is It Anyway?” the message was clear if you don’t care for nature, nature won’t care for you.  Bestselling author Anand Neelkantan, shared fascinating mythological stories of Ganga from Mahabharat and ancient Puranas. Kapil Pandey was another well-known story-teller at the festival.

Mini Ganga Quest organised in association with Tree Craze Foundation, which started two days before the festival has seen overwhelming response. More than 4000 students participated in the quiz so far. The quiz is designed to make youth and students aware about environmental issues and explain them their role in conservation. Mini Ganga Quest will continue throughout the festival and results will be announced on final day. Tree Craze Foundation led by Bhawna Sharma along with NMCG conducts Ganga Quest annually during April- May which had evoked massive million plus response this year. 

Ganga Utsav has received support from different countries. Shin Bongkil, Korean Ambassador to India said Ganga is important not only for India but for the whole world as a symbol of Indian spiritual mysticism. Walter J. Lindner,German Ambassador to India praised NMCG efforts and congratulated Ganga Utsav. Marten van den Berg, Netherland Ambassador to India gave his greetings to Ganga Utsav. He said, “Netherland government is committed to work with India. Together we can get the Ganga cleaned and keep it clean.”

An award-winning film “The Miracle Water Village”, directed by Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh showed how a drought prone village came together to start a revolution of rain-water harvesting. Another inspiring tale came from “Locals Become Geohydrologists in Rapar”,directed by Usha Dewani and Nilutpal Das where an arid village in Kutch became water secure by the efforts of visionary villagers. Thirst by Sivanageswara Rao, Angioplasty Of Dreams by Aditya Seth, Water Warriors by Nutan Manmohan and Revival Of AharPynes Systems by SoumitraDey were other notable movies. The idea behind Ganga film festival was to use films as a medium to evoke critical thinking and empathy towards ecology and environment.

Ganga Dialouges, which is a series of discussions with eminent personalities, started with renowned author and researcher Rajiv Malhotra in conversation with Shri Satyanarayana Dasa, a Vaishnava scholar. Taking a leaf out of their upcoming book Sanskrit Non- Translatables, they discussed the idea of Ganga being more relevant than Ganges as it conveys its uniqueness and sacred nature. Ganga, they said is a living entity translating it to Ganges makes her just a water body and prone to exploitation and neglect.

Sharing the innovative ways in which NamamiGange engaging in activities throughout the year, Meenakshi Payal spoke about Art and Murals project along Ganga ghats. She showed the glimpses of massive designs created by her team at Mozarto in association with NMCG. This Project is an CSR initiative under NamamiGange, supported by Union Bank of India. Painters of international repute have contributed to mural painting and facelift in this project making remarkable contributions at Chandighat, clock tower areas in Haridwar and on several iconic ghats at Varanasi.

No celebration is complete without food but it was not easy to have food in a virtual festival. “Zayaka Ganga Kinare Wala” by Anubhav Sapra, Foodie-in-Chief, Delhi Food Walks and Indian Culinary Culture made sure that the audience experience the delicious dishes of different cities on the bank of Ganga. He explored famous more than 100 years of food joints to rare delicacies like Ramphal in Laxman Jhula, Palak Halwa in Prayagraj and Bhuja in Patna. In Kolkata, he landed up at Paramount restaurant, where Subhash Chandra Bose along with other nationalist leaders used to meet and plot against British Government.

Several programs were also held in districts as a part of Ganga Utsav celebrations. Ganga Task Force has conducted afforestation drive with NCC cadets and educational tour for youth in project area. Swachhata drive and plantation on river banks, quiz and painting competitions, water body cleaning etc were reported from districts in Uttarakhand, Bulandshahr, Raibareilly, Varanasi, Kasganj, Sahibganj, Ranchi etc. Ganga Praharis, Mitras and NYK Ganga doots actively participated in several programs. Quiz and painting arranged at Ganga ghat in Raibareilly drew huge response with hundreds of school children.

The festival will continue for two more days i.e.  3rd and 4th Nov 2020. Watch out for Address by Hon’ble MoS Mr. Rattan Lal Kataria, Message from Uttrakhand Chief Minister, SadhguruJaggi Vasudev’s message, Rajeev Khandelwal in conversation with Richa Anirudh., Padmabhushan Anil Joshi in conversation with Tapasya, Trichur Brothers on making of NamamiGange anthem and many more stories and films on Day 2.

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    Source PIB