According to the mythology of Hinduism, river Ganga is considered to be sacred and is as Hindu Maa Ganga. It is a strong belief by the Hindus that having a bath in this holy river will cause remission of the committed sins.It is believed that river Ganga will dry up by the end of Kalyug.
Origin of the holy Ganga
According to ancient history, there was a King named Sagara who magically acquired 60,000 sons. King Sagara once decided to perform worship for the well being of his kingdom. To perform this ritual, a horse was one of the integral parts. But that horse was stolen by Lord Indra because of jealousy. King Sagara sent all the sons to go and search for the missing horse. They searched the entire world including under water next to Kapila, a meditating saga but failed to find it out.
They started to insult the saga thinking that the saga have stolen the horse and disturbed this penance. At this, the saga opened his eyes after several years and stared at the sons of King Sagara. The angry stare of the saga burnt all 60000 sons and they died. Since then, the souls of all the sons wandered as ghosts as their final rites were not performed. One of the descendents of Sagara named Bhagiratha came to know about this, he vowed to bring down Maa Ganga to this earth in order to cleanse the souls of Sagara’s sons with the holy water. Bhagiratha started to pray God Brahma to send Maa Ganga to earth. God Brahma agreed to him and he ordered Maa Ganga to descend to earth so that the songs of Sagara can go to heaven. Ganga felt insulted at this and decided to sweep the entire world as she fell from heaven. When Bhagiratha came to know about the decision of Maa Ganga, he started to pray Lord Shiva to break up the descent of Ganga.
Ganga fell on Lord Shiva’s head but Lord Shiva calmly and cleverly trapped her in his hair and allowed Ganga to come out in small streams. Ganga created different streams to remain on this earth to purify the unfortunate souls. Maa Ganga is the only river to follow from Heaven, Earth and hell. Thus Ganga is referred to as Tripathaga. The river Ganga is also known as Bhagirathi as it is the effort of Bhagiratha to bring goddess Ganga to this earth. The difficulties faced with valiant efforts to bring Her is termed as Bhagirath Prayatna.
According to Skanda Purana goddess Ganga is the foster mother to Kartikay, who actually is the son of God Shiva and Goddess Parvati. According the Mahabharata, the Hindu epic, Vasus was cursed by Rishi Vashistha. Vasus requested Maa Ganga to be his mother. On his request, Ganga incarnated and became wife of King Shantanu with a condition that the king cannot question to the action or deeds of Ganga at any stage. If he questions, Ganga will leave him forever. Later on when their children was born, Ganga drowned all the seven children one after another in her own water but the king being bound to the condition could not oppose. Only when the eighth child was born, the king opposed and hence Ganga left the king. The eighth son Dyaus remained alive and was imprisoned in mortal form and later became famous as Bhishma, a respected character of Mahabharata.