To attend a Ganga aarti and have its experience itself a different feeling. The religiously uplifting ceremony is performed daily to honour the River Goddess Ganga.
Every day, as dusk descends round the world, the ghats of the River Ganga witnesses a spectacular ceremony.
Several diyas, chants, the fragrance of incense, flowers, and musical instruments create an ambience of divine bliss.
The aarti ritual is of high religious significance. Fire is employed as an offering to the river. You need to witness the event to comprehend its grandiose.
In this blog, we'll provide an entire guide for Ganga Aarti.
History of Ganga Aarti in India
In India, as the evening twilight starts, there is a very special and spiritual ritual that takes places at three major places – Rishikesh, Varanasi, and Haridwar. Did you know what is the meaning and history behind this everyday ritual called Ganga Aarti?
This is a ritual that is done devotionally by usage of fire, lamp and chants near the ghats of River Ganga. Moreover, it becomes illuminated especially when the small earthen lamps called ‘diya’ are lit with a small fire and some oil and floated onto the river Ganges along with flowers.
This offering to Goddess Ganga considered as the sacred river in the country takes place with great significance especially on the Ganga Dusshera that falls in the middle of calender year. It is believed that Maa Ganga, during this time came down from heaven into the world.
The mother Ganga and the offering performed to the river is as ancient as mythology. The specific place where the river contacts the earth is known as ‘Gangotri’. It is believed that the ‘daughter of heave’ known as Ganga descended down to earth from heaven. Also, she changed into a river in order to wash the sins of predecessors of King Bhagirath.
The Ganga Aarti is a form of thanksgiving ritual performed by her followers and devotees. They want to thank the Goddess for the help by lighting a diya or big lamp. Priests chant slokas and bhajans or religious songs are also sung while the daily ritual is performed at River Ganga.
People also offer flowers and fruits here. The small diyas and flowers are floated and it is believed that there is divine power that makes people bow in devotion. The Ganga Aarti ceremony takes place at three different places every sunset.
What is the importance of Ganga Aarti in India?
Ganga Aarti means prayer for River Ganga. Prayers are dedicated to gods and goddesses. River Ganga isn't just a river in India, it's Divine Mother. River Ganga gives life within the sort of water. The same water also removes sins once you take a dip in its water.
River Ganga also gives liberation to souls. It's not just a river but it is considered as a whole culture itself. For agriculture, her water remains precious for India. River Ganga is taken into account goddess which was originally living in heaven.
Where is the Ganga Aarti Performed in India?
The Ganga Aarti happens every evening no matter whatever the weather be on the banks of the Ganges River in Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Varanasi. However, the ceremony is extremely different in each of those places.
1. Ganga Aarti Ceremony in Varanasi
This divine ritual is a highly choreographed ceremony. The extravaganza is amazing and you will certainly be wanting more of it.
The aarti is performed on a stage on the river banks. A group of young pandits, all draped in saffron-coloured robes raise huge brass lamps in honour of the River Goddess.
The ceremony begins with the blowing of a conch shell, which is believed to eliminate all negative energy and heighten your senses.
The waving of scented sticks in complex patterns and circling of huge flaming lamps follows. The movement of the lamps is synchronized to the musical chants of hymns and music of cymbals. The fragrance of sandalwood thickly permeates the air. The aarti isn't just a ritual it's a display of complete devotion to the River Ganga.
How to Attend the Varanasi Ganga Aarti?
People start arriving very early to get a good position for viewing the aarti. A useful way of seeing it is by boat from the river. Alternatively, many stores in the near hire their balconies out to tourists.
A great aarti takes place on a particularly extravagant scale in Varanasi near the end of each year on Kartik Purnima. Over here there is even an early sunrise Ganga Aarti in Varanasi, organized by Subah-e-Banaras.
2. Ganga Aarti Ceremony in Haridwar
The Haridwar Ganga Aarti is performed at the ghat named Har-Ki-Pauri. The name of this ghat means "Feet of the Lord".
A footprint on a fence there's said to belong to Lord Vishnu. In terms of spiritual importance, Har-ki-Pauri is taken into account to be like Dashashwamedh Ghat where the aarti takes place in Varanasi.
Myth has it that some sort of (Amrit) landed there after falling from a pot carried by the celestial bird Garuda.
The Ganga Aarti at Haridwar is probably the first of the three main Ganga aartis in India and can have the widest appeal to wanderers, particularly those with an Indian background.
It has a location of spiritual significance an equivalent because the Varanasi Ganga Aarti but isn't as flamboyant and staged. Yet, it's quite the spiritual circus: people, pandits, babas, idols of varied gods, loudspeakers, clanging bells, singing, incense, flowers, and flames!
All this combines to make a sensory experience. Some people say that it stays too popular, crowded, and noisy. However, I found it to be one of the foremost awe-inspiring things I've ever witnessed in India.
How to Attend the Haridwar Ganga Aarti?
There are a few options for attending the aarti, counting on how you would like to ascertain it and what you're prepared to pay. It's possible just to sit on the steps and watch it from a distance, like most people. However, if you're staying during a decent hotel like the Haveli Hari Ganga, a guide will most likely be available to require you to the aarti. This way, you'll be able to get in among the action and participate in it.
You'll be blessed by a pandit, and led to the front steps of the ghat, right where the lamps are circled. If you're fortunate, you'll even be able to hold one of the lamps. The evocative chanting including the billowing flames, and therefore the water lapping at your feet, makes it particularly moving and unforgettable. You can immerse yourself during this ancient ritual. It's highly recommended.
Of course, at the top, when the pandits invite money, it is often a rude shock. They're known to be greedy, and if you are a foreigner they have been known to invite thousands of rupees. It's not necessary to give this much though. An amount of 501 rupees (for a couple) is more than sufficient if you're feeling generous.
Tip: If you are a woman, do take a shawl to hide your head for religious reasons. Don't worry too much if you don't have one though. You'll be issued with a thread to perform the same function.
3. Ganga Aarti Ceremony in Rishikesh
The most well-famous aarti in Rishikesh is done on the ghat of the river at Parmarth Niketan Ashram.
Each does their rituals according to their wishes. The aarti is not held by the pandits but instead, it is done by the people who stay in the ashram.
The ceremony begins with the singing of bhajans (devotional songs), prayers. A Hawan, a purifying and sacred ritual with the offerings to the hearth god is performed.
The lamps are lit after the Hawan. The aarti occurs because the final a part of the ceremony. The holy head of the ashram sing which is accompanied by tunes of all attendees. This ceremony is more of a private spiritual connection.
Even after the aarti, you'll not desire to leave. Sit for a short time enjoying the divine bliss of the River Ganga overlooked by an enormous statue of Lord Shiva.
How to Attend the Rishikesh Ganga Aarti?
Every individual is welcome to attend the Ganga Aarti at Parmarth Niketan. Do arrive early if you would like to urge a seat on the steps on the brink of the action. It can be difficult to see otherwise. Shoes must be removed but you'll securely store them for free of charge at the doorway