Ganga Sagar Mela held annually during Makar Sankranti on Sagar Island, the spot where the holy River Ganga merges into the Bay of Bengal, attracts thousands of Hindus from around the world. There is a reason why we Hindus perform tarpan and other rituals in Ganga here and visit the Kapilamuni Ashram and temple on its banks. The story found in the Puranas associated with Gangasagar Mela is related to the arrival of Ganga from heaven to earth.
Legend has it that the ancestors of King Bhagirat had performed intense Tapas to bring Gangadown to earth to wash away the sins of his ancestors and help them attain Moksha.
The ancestors of King Bhagirat had to face the anger of sage Kapila for intruding into his area and accusing him of stealing the horse that they were following. An angry Sage Kapila opened his eyes and they were turned into ashes by his curse at the spot where the present Kapilamuni Ashram is located.
King Bhagirat performed the austerities for several years and he was finally granted the boon of brining Ganga on to earth by Lord Brahma.
Ganga descended from heaven to fulfill the Tapas of King Bhagirat and Lord Shiva held Her in his matted locks so that the power of Goddess does not destroy the earth. She then traveled to earth purifying all that she touched.
On the Makar Sankranthi day, finally Bhagirat did tarpan with water for his unfortunate ancestors.
Today Kapilamuni ashram is also known as Ganga Sagar and thousands of people arrive here to take holy dip for redemption of sins and to attain Moksha.
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