For centuries, Hindus have called it the nectar of God, believing that just a drop brings salvation. Now it comes as a new vintage for water goblets: water from the Ganges River.
Two Indian businessmen have built a plant high in the Himalayas to bottle Ganges water for sale in India and abroad.
And they’re unfazed at the prospect of competing with better-known mineral waters.
“This is something much more superior,” said Ved Prakash Gupta, one of the partners in the venture. According to Gupta, this water is not only clean, refreshing and liver-friendly. It’s holy.
The brand name is Ganga Jal, the respectful term for holy water in the Hindi language.
The Ganges is one of the world’s filthiest rivers, but the pollution starts downstream from the plant, in the densely populated plains. “Ganga Jal” is drawn from the fountainhead of the river at an elevation of 8,550 feet near the town of Gangotri--190 miles north of New Delhi.
Gupta and his partner, Ashok Gupta, say drinking their bottled water can ease symptoms of cholera, diarrhea, asthma, diabetes, migraine, high blood pressure and acne. Less open to question is the claim that it’s also good for dehydration.
Since Ganga Jal is expensive, the bottlers suggest diluting it in a gallon of tap water or somebody else’s brand. In India it sells for 5 rupees (19 cents) per 6-ounce packet. It costs more than a bottle of cola or a pint of milk.
The sanctity of the water is an important part of the marketing, especially in predominantly Hindu India. The Guptas, who are not related, say they have sold $8,760 worth of the water since August.
The first shipment abroad--worth $10,000--went in September to an Indian department store owner in Florida.