The Holy Ganges

The tall waves of the Ganges

Halt my frenzied breath

As I stare at the vast expanse

Of water…steady …cool…and stern.

Rows of ‘pandas’ burn incense

On its bank, light a fire , chant incantations.

Heads shaved off, dressed in orange.

 Rows of ‘rudraksh’ beads surrounding

Their necks…a twisted bewitching look

Curled at the corner of their lips

Hosts of distressed people

Lined up with garlanded pots of ashes

To immerse in its holy waters

Some, to float their dead

Some, to float their ashes

 This is the holy Ganges

Cleansed and purified

With the cooled waters

Springing from the Himalayas

On the other side are men,

 women and children

bathing and  washing dirty clothes…

the flowing waters gallop away

with the foamy dirt

to drown in the ocean….

 The pure and sparkling water

Is still holy

 It washes away the sins of man

 a dip cleanses the polluted soul…

Science betrays this fantasy

 Cleanse Ganga say the scientists

 Its holiness has been betrayed

E-coli rule it now…

Impure for human consumption

The fated Ganga flows on

It is holy …

 We mangle its holiness

                                                                  ~Shobha Diwakar

                                                                  Jabalpur, India

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