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‘Jal samadhi’ ritual sinks clean Ganga drive in Haridwar’s Neel Dhara

Saints immerse bodies of dead seers at the religious site on the banks of Ganga as part of the burial ritual, polluting the river.

dehradun Updated: Nov 08, 2017 14:16 IST
Sandeep Rawat 
Sandeep Rawat 
Hindustan Times, Haridwar
Jal Samadhi,Namami Gange,Narendra Modi
Saints perform ‘jal-samadhi’ ritual at Neel Dhara in Haridwar(HT File Photo/)

Neel Dhara is a serene religious site on the banks of Ganga in the temple town of Haridwar. Here saints prefer to immerse bodies of dead seers, in a ritual known as ‘jal samadhi.’

But as Centre’s clean Ganga action plan as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Namami Gange project, launched in 2014, gained momentum, the ritual has come under sharp focus. More so, as corpses of other than saints too are often seen floating on the river.

On Tuesday, police fished out two bodies floating on the water, polluting the river, considered holy by Hindus.

To prevent river pollution, senior superintendent of police (SSP) Krishan Kumar VK said he had directed concerned police stations to keep a tab on the secluded ghats (banks of the river).

As per religious tradition, bodies of saints are given ‘jal-samadhi’ in padmasana position at Neel Dhara.

Though even saints for long have been debating whether to continue the practice that leads to water pollution, no concrete step has been taken yet to stop the ritual.

The government, however, taken a slew of other measures to prevent river pollution. It recently released Rs 260 crore for development of cremation ghats along 675 metre Neeldhara-Chandighat stretch and Rs 50 crore for river front development project among others.

Sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Manish Kumar said administration will put up signage, cautioning people against dumping bodies in the water. Police will also do regular patrolling in the area, he added.

The official, however, remained silent on ‘jal-samadhi’ ritual, a major source of water pollution. Experts say the entire effort to clean Ganga will go for a toss unless the ritual is stopped.

Even the saints are aware of the facts and have been demanding allocation of land for ‘bhu-samadhi (burial in earth)’ for deceased saints.

Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad (ABAP) president Mahant Narendra Giri told HT that they had passed a resolution during Kumbh-2010 and also prior to Allahabad Kumbh in 2013 for ‘bhu-samadhi’ (land-burial), particularly for saints of “higher order.”

“We realise the importance of making the sacred river pollution free. The government is yet to give us land. Moreover, we are generating awareness and consensus among saint community and all the Akhadas for bhu-samadhi instead of jal-samadhi” he added.

First Published: Nov 08, 2017 14:16 IST