We finally got the opportunity to witness the Ganga Aarti (River worshiping ritual on the banks of river Ganges) this year. I had previously seen the evening aarti at Rishikesh and I was so moved by the divine atmosphere which comprised of lights, colours, chants, bells, drums and the smell of various flowers, incense, camphor, herbal products; I immediately added Haridwar and Banaras (Varanasi) aarti to my already extensive bucket list. We are yet to visit Banaras but this time, we were gladly a part of the Haridwar aarti.
As most of you might already be aware, Haridwar is one of the seven holy places to Hindus. It is an ancient city in Haridwar district of Uttarakhand state of India. River Ganga (or Ganges) enters the Indo-Gangetic Plains of North India for the first time at Haridwar, which gave the city its ancient name, Gangadwara. Haridwar is a very famous Hindu pilgrimage site in India and is easily accessible by road, rail or flight.
Kumbh mela is celebrated in every twelve years in Haridwar when millions of devotees from all across the globe get together to be a part of the rituals, to seek blessings and perform ritualistic baths on the banks of the Ganga (or Ganges) to wash away their sins and attain Moksha. I am not a religious person, but rivers definitely calm my mind, and to me, that is my idea of freedom. Sitting beside the mighty Ganga is one such feeling, that I can hardly find the appropriate words to describe.
Ganga aarti is a river worshipping ceremony where prayers are offered to river Ganga, also lovingly called as Maa Ganga (Mother Ganga). The Ganga aarti is performed at Har Ki Pauri, a famous ghat (steps leading to the river) on the bank of Ganga. Har Ki Pauri means “Steps of Lord Shiva”. It is also that spot where river Ganga ends its journey through the mountains and enters the plains. To witness the Ganga aarti being performed, several devotees reach the venue hours ahead of the aarti time to find the perfect spot on the river banks across the river.
As the sun goes down, several lamps would lit up during sunset as fire is used as an offering and trust me, what a delight it is to watch all the lamps dancing to the prayer songs that are played in the background. The aarti is a dynamic play of light (lamps), colors, textures, hand gestures, and body postures and movements.
Young or old, everybody would just watch the priests performing the rituals or the lamps surrounded by floral garlands floating by the river Ganga. The periodic tinkle of the temple bells in the background add to the spiritual mystery in the atmosphere. The lamps on the river banks and their reflections will always remain a photographer’s delight. I am glad I was able to click some pictures but it is surely a different feeling to just sit there and watch the aarti without having to click the camera button, or even better, without having anything running in the mind. Hope you liked the pictures. See you all soon.