Ganga Dussehra, also known as Gangavataran, meaning “the descent of the Ganga”, is observed on Dashami Tithi of Jyeshtha Shukla Paksha. This day currently falls in the month of May or June.
Ganga Dussehra usually precedes Nirjala Ekadashi by one day, but during some years both these festivals fall on the same day.
Ganga Dussehra is dedicated to Goddess Ganga. This day is observed to mark the descend of River Ganga to the Earth with her mission to expel the cursed souls of Bhagiratha’s ancestors. When Goddess Ganga, who was residing in the Kamandal of Lord Brahma, descended to the Earth, it is believed that the Goddess also brought the purity of heaven to the Earth.
On the day of Ganga Dussehra, devotees take holy bath in River Ganges and worship Goddess Ganga. Taking bath in River Ganges and offering charity activities or Dan-Punya on Ganga Dussehra day is considered highly auspicious. Devotees believe that the holy dip in Ganges on Ganga Dussehra day will relieve them from all type of sins.
Allahabad, Prayag, Garhmukteshwar, Haridwar, Rishikesh and Varanasi are the popular places where devotees gather in large numbers to take a holy dip. It is a legendary celebration in Varanasi, where thousands of devotees take Ganga Snan and participate in the sacred rituals of Ganga Aarti at Dasaswamedh Ghat.
Ganga Dussehra should not be confused with Ganga Jayanti, which is the day when the Goddess Ganga was reborn.