Gangotri is a major Hindu pilgrimage spot. Many of the purely Hindu festivals are celebrated in Gangotri with immense gusto. Read on to learn about the major festivals that Gangotri region celebrates-
The festival of Ganga Dusshera is held at Gangotri in the months of May-June. In the Dashami tithi this festival is celebrated and in the month of Jyeshta [Hindu calendar month]. This festival is a pompous celebration of Devi Ganga who with her pure, refreshing waters nourishes and revitalizes the teeming millions on this earth. This festival is actually held to commemorate the holy descent of Ganga on to this earth. It is a festival that’s celebrated over a span of 10 days and pilgrims have a conviction that if they pray to the Devi on this particular day, they would be freed of the 10 major mortal sins. Ganga Aarti, singing of Kirtans, Bhajans and other prayer songs in honor of Devi Ganga are done on this occasion by priests and saints. It is a lifetime experience to visualize the evening Aarti of Ganga when the waters of the river are illuminated by the many floating Diyas placed with sweets and flowers in special leaf boats. The ambience resounds to the sound of Shlokas that are chanted and bells that are made to ring with great devotion. The air becomes fragrant with the sweet aroma of flowers and incense sticks offered to the Goddess. People believe that by bathing in the holy Ganga River on this day, all their sins would be washed away. So, they never miss that opportunity. Also, fairs are organized on the occasion of Ganga Dusshera and people enjoy a lot, buying tit-bits and feeling blessed.
The festival of Diwali marks the closing of the Gangotri temple for the chilly winter months. On this day after Puja, the idol of Devi Ganga is transported to the Mukhyamath temple, her home for the winter months. People do a thorough cleaning of their houses prior to the arrival of the date of celebration. On the day of Diwali houses are lit up with oil Deepaks or Diyas. People wear new clothes, exchange good wishes, sweets and gifts. Unique fireworks are arranged during the evening. Even the temple of Gangotri is decked up with tiny colorful lights and there’s a festive spirit all around.
This festival of Akshaya Tritiya is celebrated around April-May each year. That is the day when the temple reopens after remaining closed for a couple of Months during the winter season. The idol of Ganga Devi is brought back from Mukhyamath temple and reinstated at her residential temple; i.e. Gangotri temple. On this occasion, the temple is decked up quite lavishly and the bringing back of the idol is done amid great pomp and grandeur with people singing and dancing all around and participating in the lengthy procession associated with this ‘bringing back’ ceremony. Priests perform a special Puja in honor of Goddess Ganga on this very auspicious day which according to the locals is the day on which Devi Ganga came down to earth. The other name for Akshaya Tritya is Akha Teej and the festival also commemorates the birth of Parashuram, Lord Vishnu’s sixth incarnation. In Gangotri region people celebrate this festival with great religious fervor. In every house Diyas are lit up using pure ghee and people adorn their foreheads with Tilaks made out of turmeric and Kumkum. They buy expensive gold, silver or even diamond jewelries on this day with the belief that their riches will grow all the more by doing so. Pujas are arranged in almost every house in the Gangotri region and also crowds pour in large numbers at the Gangotri temple to witness the Aarti, offer Puja and purify their heart and mind with the holy mantras and Shlokas chanted during the occasion.