Ganges River• The Ganges, as we saw previously, is one of the most important rivers in South Asia. • This isn’t just because of its economic value, however. • The Ganges is also important to Hindus (80% of India’s population is Hindu).
• The Ganges’ drainage basin is three times the size of France.• 350-500 million people live in this basin. • Consider that there are only 300 million in the U.S.
• In Hinduism, the Ganges is worshipped as a goddess. • It is believed that bathing in it can give forgiveness of one’s sins. Some days are holier than others for this. • People also drink from it and carry away water in copper pots.
• Many Hindu families keep a vial of Ganges water in their home, which symbolizes both the importance of the Ganges and also to drink if a family member is near death.• Many temples line the river and people go down the steps into the water to bathe and pray.• The ashes of the deceased are also scattered in the river in the belief that doing so will help ensure the person goes to heaven.
• Unfortunately, the Ganges is also very polluted. • Fertilizers and pesticides get into the river through drainage and some industrial wasters are dumped into it. • There’s also raw sewage that’s released into it. That’s nearly 264 million gallons of human waste per day.
• All this combined with the fact that dead bodies or insufficiently cremated bodies are often found floating in the river makes for an unpleasant situation.• As you might imagine, many people become ill from bathing in and/or drinking the water. • They do it because they believe the Ganges is too holy to be polluted and will clean itself.
Feni River• The Feni is a river in Bangladesh.• It had a bad habit of succumbing to storm surges that would flow up the river during cyclones.• These surges would flood inland areas.• In the 1980’s, a large earthen dam was built across the mile-long mouth to protect the interior from surges.