is performed at Har Ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar. Ganga Aarti in Haridwar is one of the most famous in Haridwar. Visit to Haridwar is not complete if you have not seen its Ganga Aarti.
Meaning & Importance Ganga Aarti
Ganga Aarti means prayer for River Ganga. Prayers are dedicated to gods and godesses. River Ganga is not just a river in India, It is Divine Mother. River Ganga gives life in the form of water. The same water also removes sins when you take a dip in its holy water. River Ganga also gives liberation to souls. Its not just a river but whole culture itself. Historically millions of people are living on the bank of the river ganga. For agriculture her water is still precious for India. River Ganga is considered godess which was originally living in heaven. Saint Bhagirath made a long meditation to give liberation to his ancestors (reduced to ashes due to curse of sage Kapil). He was blessed with Ganga by gods. Lord Shiva held her to reduce her mighty flow. When Ganga flow on the remainings of acncestors of Bhagirath they got Moksha (Liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth). Following the same tradition still Hindu people offer remainings of their dead relatives (after bunring the body) to the river Ganga and expect the moksha for them. In the name of the saint Bhagirath river ganga is known as Bhagirathi at the source and gets name Ganga when it is meeting Alaknanda River at Devprayag. Since hundreds of years people are considering river ganga as holy river and it became part of thier life where they come to get moksha for their relatives which passed away and to remove thier sins. The Ganga Aarti is kind of thanks giving to River Ganga.
History of Ganga Aarti
It is very difficult to say when the tradition of Ganga Aarti started. However the Ganga Aarti at Har Ki Pauri was started by Pundit Madan Mohan Malviya in 1910s. Recently he was awarded as "Bharat Ratna" highest civilion award by Indian Govt. The small island infront of Har Ki Pauri Ghat is named after him.
Ganga Aarti Location
Ganga Aarti is organized at Har Ki Pauri Ghat. Average 3000 to 30000 or even more people come to experience evening ganga aarti. The crowd will depand on season (May June is highest season while july and august is low season) as well as weekend - non weekend and also the festivals. On Long weekends and all big indian festivals more people will join the Ganga Aarti. Har Ki Pauri is most famous ghat to take holy dip in the ganga. Har Ki Pauri is located on the main highway. From Haridwar Railway Station and bus station it is 2 - 3 kms far. Nearest airport is Dehradun 35 kms. The ghat is religiosly very important as according to the ancient hindu religious books Lord Vishnu appeared here to bless Bhratuhari. That is why it is known as Har Ki Pauri (means footprints of god). During every festival days, no moon days, fool moon days and weekends you can see more crowd. Everyday at least 5000 to 10000 people come here to take bath. On weekend the number can reach even more. On some of the big festivals such as baisakhi, makar sakranti, somvati amavasya, shivratri number of people in one day can easily reach at 1,00,000 to 3,00,000 or even more. It is also the same place where drop of nector fell down during the battle between devas and asuras for nector. Due to this it is considered one of the holiest place to take bath in the holy river ganga. Obiously where holy river and holy place comes together it will attract large amount of people. Specially during the Kumbh Mela when the time is also auspicous it attacts millions of people to take bath in ganga during kumbh festival which comes after every 12 years in Haridwar. There are some other ocassions where you can see large gathering here such as Ardh Kumbh Mela after every 6 years (During Jan to May), Kanwar Mela (7 days normally comes in July August).
Who performs the Ganga Aarti
Ganga Aarti is done by the pundits (priests) selected by Ganga Sabha. Ganga Sabha is NGO which is managing Ganga Aarti since it is started. Ganga Sabha is also manages the ghat along with help of govt.
What happens during Ganga Aarti
Initially people start coming early to get good spot. Later they carried out the idol of River Ganga from the small temple located close to the ghat. Idol is normally carried out in "palkhi" by pundits and other people which they put on the platform of ghat near river ganga. Some people also go to the idol of Ganga and take blessing. A few minutes later pundits come and starts the ceremony. Initially they are chanting sanskrit mantras along with offering such as cotton, colors, milk, honey, suger, curd, ghee and some other things. These are symbolik offerings so there is not large qauntity but just small amount. The chantings are done by pundits live which you can hear on loud speakers. After the offering are completed they starts singing Ganga Lahari - A Sankrit Poem written by Pundit Jagannath. Pundit Jagannath was sanskrit scholar and poet born in 1590. For complete Ganga Lahari Stotram in Sanskrit with English translation Click here. After the Ganga Lahari the pundits takes promise from everyone to not to pollute the river ganga which people promise by raising both hands. Some time they also chant the name of ganga "Har Har Gange, Jai Ma Gange" for a while. There is little break in before the main Ganga Aarti starts. The workers of Ganga Sabha asks for the donations if people want to donate somethings. This donation is not compulsory and one can donate whatever they like. Donations will be used for the expanses of Ganga Aarti and some other religious and social welfare. Soon after this the pundits lights the Aartis and you can here the Ganga Aarti song on loudspeaker with the background music of bells.
Seating Arrangements for Ganga Aarti
For better view you can seat on the small island type of Ghat known as "Malviya Dwip". If you seat here you can see the priest performing the ganga aarti clearly in front of you. There will be river ganga between you and the preist but the distance is not much (approx 50 feet). You can sit on the steps or ghat. There are no chairs or carpet. The platform is normally cleaned by staff of ganga sabha just before the Ganga Aarti. If you want you can use something like cloth or paper to put on plaform for your seating. If you have problem in seating on platform you sit on wooden platforms which cost you approx 30 to 60 per person. This small wooden platform are established by local people.
.Suggetions for Ganga Aarti
The place is visited by many hindu pilgrims and many of them do pooja or rituals with the help of local preists (pundit) here. Normally people also offer some donations to the preist after this pooja. If you are not interested in this you can simply avoid people if they are asking you for ganga pooja or something like that.
You will see some people asking for donations, they are from various NGOs or social welfare groups (some of them are good some of them are fake). You can donate if you like but nothing is compulsory. There are also some people from Ganga Sabha (who organize the ganga aarti) who ask people for donations. You can donate them if you like.
Your donation will help them in cover cost of arranging ganga aarti.
Try to avoid any kind of activity which cause pollution in the holy river ganga or nature specially plastic.
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