There is a story regarding the significance of Ganga Snan. Once, Lord Shiva wanted to see the Earth and so he came down to Earth along with Parvati and Nandi, his vahana ie mount or vehicle. On their arrival, they saw hundreds of people heading towards the Ganga for a holy bath.
Lord Shiva in Grand Bassin - pic by EM - Moris Otreman
Parvati was surprised and asked Lord Shiva, “You told me that, whoever bathes in the Ganga gets salvation and comes to heaven. Do you think that there is sufficient place in heaven for all these people who are heading towards the Ganga?” Lord Shiva smiled and said, “Only a very few of them will be able to come to heaven. Only the person who has come for a holy bath with a pious mind and promises not to commit any sin thereafter can come to heaven. Most of these people have come simply to get rid of their responsibilities, or just show off their religious mind, and some are only satisfying their ego by bathing in the Ganga. Such people will never attain the desired results of a holy dip.”
But Parvati wanted to see for herself, so she told Shiva that she wanted to go to the Ganges riverbank. Both disguised themselves, Shiva as a man afflicted with leprosy and Parvati as his beautiful wife. The disguised Parvati started asking for help. She asked passers-by to help her give a holy bath to her husband so that he would be relieved from this miserable disease. But no one listened to them.
Some passed sarcastic and mean comments, while others asked her to leave her leper husband, and still others tried to convince her to marry them and leave the leper husband.
Only one person offered to help and took the disguised Shiva for a holy bath. Then Shiva and Parvati appeared before him in their true form, and blessed him.
Parvati also experienced at first-hand what Lord Shiva had told her.
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Moris Otreman, slow travel in Mauritius!