India is a land that offers some of the most mesmerising and spectacular sights that you will never get to experience anywhere else in the world. Being home to a population of varied beliefs and religions there are several traditions that have been well preserved over ages. One such traditions is that of the famous Ganga Aarti for the believers of Hinduism. This is one ceremony that will leave you feeling awe struck and positive after it is done. As the name suggests this primarily takes place on the banks where the holy river Ganga makes her way through who is also considered as a life-giving source. Here are a few things that you must know about the Ganga Aarti ceremony that will make you pack your bags at once:
Believers of Hinduism have always respected and worshipped all the natural elements that they believe was created by the gods. This Ganga Aarti ritual is kind of like an ode to the holy Ganga River and showcases the human’s humility and gratitude to the life-giving river. it is a devotional offering to the goddess ganga and after the Aarti people release Diyas filled with flowers down the river and the entire darkness that falls over the river is brightened up and it is quite a remarkable sight. It mostly takes place every evening by the river side but in some places, it also takes place early in the morning as well accompanied with a magnificent boat ride. The primary meaning of Aarti is ‘remover of pain’ and as a tradition it is performed in front of the divine remover of pain from our lives. In this case, it is river Ganga that washes away all the sins from our life and provides salvation.
How is it Performed?
Ganga Aarti has to be one of the most frequently and religiously performed holy ritual in India no matter the weather or temperature. This is the reason as to why it is also one of the most popular ceremonies in the world and can be witnessed anytime of the year especially in places like RishikeshRishikesh, Haridwar and Varanasi. The Aarti is performed with great care and synchronisation with the Pandit holding the flaming Aarti and the atmosphere is encapsulated with chants, Bhajans and loud Aarti music and chiming of the bells, it may sound too much but once you are there you feel all your tension and pain just melt away. The Aarti is done in oil lamps lit on ghee along with rose petals and other flowers as offerings.
Where is Ganga Aarti performed?
Generally, the entire way through which Ganga river course runs is worshipped by the locals in the form of small or big Aarti ceremonies and processions. Some of the prime destinations for Ganga Aarti ceremony to take place are in holy places of Haridwar, Rishikesh, Varanasi and Allahabad. The ceremonies in these places have been admired by the devotees and documented by a variety of travel channels as well for its sheer magnificence and the aura of positivity that it offers. Here is a guide to some of the places where you can go and experience the beauty and feel the divinity of a fulfilling Ganga Aarti:
Haridwar Ganga Aarti
One of the most popular destinations in north India for Ganga Aarti is at Har ki Pauri in Haridwar where the Aarti takes place on the Ghats here. As compared to the Varanasi Aarti, the Aarti at Haridwar is much more relaxed and tension free. The history of the Aarti procession here dates back to the 1910s when the procession here was commenced by pundit Madan Mohan Malaviya who was also recently given a Bharat Ratna by the Government of India. To honor his contributions a small island off the coast of Har ki Pauri is also named after him. The brass Aarti vessels are rounded up on the banks of river Ganga here as a salutation to the fast flowing Ganga River.
Best Time to Visit – The perfect time to go for Ganga Aarti in Haridwar is during the summer months of April to June and winter time is also a good way to ditch the crowd and be a part of this incredible procession.
Varanasi Ganga Aarti
This is one of the most elaborate and extravagant Ganga Aarti that is performed in India. The ancient city of Varanasi is lined with innumerable big and small Ghats. During the evening time these Ghats especially Dashashwamedh Ghat (very important in Hindu culture) lights up to life with synchronized Aarti procession taking place and is attended by a huge throng of devotees. The pundits performing the Aarti are dressed in silk clothing and the entire environment there is laced in a deep sense of devotion to the goddess and immense gratitude. These rituals of Ganga Aarti is performed by the students of Vedas and Upanishads and the whole 45-minute spectacle is headed by the head priest of the Gangotri Seva Samiti.
Best Time to Visit – The winter months is a good time to have a peaceful and a comfortable Ganga Aarti experience when the crowd is less and you will also be able to ditch the unbearable summer heat.
Rishikesh Ganga Aarti:
The twin holy town of Haridwar, Rishikesh is situated right next to each other and has also become popular for being one of the best places to truly have a wonderful Ganga Aarti experience. The Ghats of the town springs to life during the sun setting time and the people ready their Aarti Diyas to release in the water as a thank you to the sun and gratitude to the river. The same procession follows where the priests perform the Aarti facing the river as an honour to her and her life-giving powers. There are several temples located close to the Ghat that play devotional music during this time and the whole place is filled with chanting of the lord making it one of the most spiritual experiences of your life. This is an unmissable thing to do when you are in Rishikesh.
Best Time to Visit – Being a hilly area you must visit during the summer months of April to June.