Sample Religious Studies Paper on Roles of the River Ganges in Hindu Practice

River Ganges is also known as Ganga the holiest river in any religion. The Ganges originates from a cave at Gaumukh in the Indian Himalayas. Though regularly polluted, it plays important roles to Hindu community. River Ganges basin extends approximately one million km2 and encompasses parts of India, China and Bangladesh. The river is 2,525km long and altitude ranges 8,848m in the highland, to sea level in the coastal deltas of India. The river plays has many roles in Hindu community. This paper outlines the roles of river Ganges to Hindu society.

The river is the final resting place of many Hindus whose burnt corpse and cremated ashes are placed in the river for spiritual revival. Hindus believe that rituals performed at the River Ganges increase their blessings (Kinsley,1988). The sacred ritual in Hinduism is bathing in the Holy water of the River Ganges which they believe it cleanses all sins and frees them from the cycle of rebirth.

Hindus view River Ganges as a fair and beautiful woman whom they worship and see as the giver and taker of life (Bradley, 2012). Most of the Hindu families carry water from River Ganges because they believe it is prestigious to have water from the Holy Ganges in their house

The Ganges has a high rate of re-aeration, which is the process by which it absorbs oxygen from the atmosphere. This prevents the extinction of species living in this River and supports many plant species which has both the economic and ecological value.

Plant and animal species at the bank of the River Ganges helps in nutrient and water conservation and also control soil erosion. River Ganges’ basin has fertile soil which supports agricultural activities. The river and its tributaries are sources of irrigation. River Ganges contributes to at least 25 per cent of India’s total water resources. (Rinehart, 2004).


Bradley, I. C. (2012). Water: A spiritual history. London: Bloomsbury.

Kinsley, D. R. (1988). Hindu goddesses: Visions of the divine feminine in the Hindu religious          tradition. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Rinehart, R. (2004). Contemporary Hinduism: Ritual, Culture, and Practice. Santa Barbara:          ABC-CLIO.