Photo: Rail Yatri Blog
Every evening after the sunset the Holy Ganga Aarti is performed in Hardiwar, Rishikesh and Varanasi in India.
People in India consider the aarti to be a very sacred, powerful ritual where in they seek the blessings of the Goddess Ganga. The Ganga aarti – performed on the banks of the river Ganga has been the subject of curiosity for many people abroad.
Ganga is the Goddess of the most holy river in India. The aarti takes place on the river ghats, facing the river. The Pandits are surrounded clockwise by brass lamps which are lit and they chant the mantras in the praise of the Goddess.
As per the belief, lamps acquire the power of the deity. After the ritual is over the devotees place their hands over the flame and raising their palms to their forehead to get the blessing of the Goddess. A diya with small candles and flowers are flowed down the river while performing the aarti. Hundreds of diyas float on the river giving rise to a mesmerising sight.
VARANASI GANGA AARTI
The Varanasi Ganga Aarti takes place after sunset everyday at the Dasaswamedh Ghat which is in vicinity of the Kashi Vishwanath temple. People come prior around 5pm to get a good position to stand. The Maha Aarti takes place in Varanasi near the end of each year on Kartik Purnima.
This aarti differs from Rishikesh and Haridwar in the fact that it is a highly orchestrated ceremony.
The ceremony starts with the blowing of a conch shell, believed to terminate all negative energies and heightening your senses. Young Pandits are draped in saffron coloured robes raising huge brass lamps in honour of the river Goddess.
Incense sticks are waved in elaborate patterns following the circling of the large flaming lamps. Rhythmic chants of hymns and music of cymbals, sandalwood heady scent thickly covers the air.
Irrespective of the fact that you are a theist or an atheist, the aarti is a beautiful experience.
RISHIKESH GANGA AARTI
The Ganga Aarti here is held at Parmarnath Niketan Ashram, it is a relaxed and not-hurried experience. Each and everyone perform the rituals in their own way. The aarti is performed by the ashram residents, moreover the children studying the Vedas here. To enjoy the ritual here people come early removing their shoes and embrace their souls while they are lost murmuring the holy chants for Goddess Ganga.
Bhajans and prayers are sung, a hawan is conducted to purify the holy ritual, lamps are lit after the hawan.
This ceremony feels more of a divine and personal connection – the aarti is the final part of the ritual. After the aarti is over people do not leave they sit and enjoy the divine bliss, immersing their minds into the waters of the Ganga River which is also overlooked by a huge statue of Lord Shiva.
HARIDWAR GANGA AARTI
People at Haridwar get to the ghats of the river as soon as possible and secure a position and enjoy the aarti.
The priests of the temple carry the brass lamps in order to honour the holy river. The experience is receptive along with loud speakers chanting mantras, singing, incense, flowers, clanging bells and flames.
This aarti is held at Har-Ki-Pauri, being of the holiest place in the terms of the spiritual importance. The aarti here is more relaxed than Varanasi.
The aarti starts after the sunset, people, pandits and babas arrive with their offerings all getting along in their own rituals – each respecting the other’s space.
If you are an India or are in India, the Ganga aarti is worth experiencing atleast once in your lifetime.