Peter Havholm May 20th, 2008
This video (“In Devprayag”), placed here for continuity in the blog but completed well after our return to the U.S., adds illustration to Mark Wilson’s fine description below of our visit to the beginning of the Ganges in Devprayag. His text explains what the video shows: the three rivers, the suspension bridge, the mountains. The video runs about 3 minutes, and so it may take a minute to come up on your computer.
In mild disagreement with the comment on religion with which Mark ends his post, I’d point out that the ghat we used to climb down into the birth of the Ganges was constructed for sacred purposes, like the little rooms for pilgrims pictured in the video — though there are no signs warning off visitors with secular curiosities. Our position seemed to me analogous to that of one walking into a European cathedral while a service was in progress. If one wanted to examine Christopher Wren’s work on the rood screen, one would wait until the service was over, deferring to the building’s purpose.
Hinduism seems not to have services in the European sense; the Ganges is holy 24/7. So when the ghat on the Ganges is the church, and there are only individual acts of worship, it is a natural practice for priests to approach potential worshipers. And playing by Indian rules, it’s their ghat.