What can be better than watching the Ganga Arti at Har ki Pauri, Haridwar on the early morning of Mahalaya? Mahalaya is an auspicious day among the Hindus when the men offer prayer to their ancestors in a ritual at the banks of holy river Ganga. The holy city of Haridwar is one of the places where it is considered auspicious to offer the ancestral prayers at the Ganga banks.
See what an atmosphere of holiness is here – the pure air of the Ganga – what an assemblage of Sadhus – will you find anywhere a place like this? – Swami Vivekananda
We had the opportunity of being at Haridwar on the Mahalaya this year. So early in the morning we decided to go to Har ki Pauri. Har ki Pauri is a famous ghat on the bank of the Ganga and is revered by all. Har means Lord Shiva and Pauri means feet. It is believed that Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu had visited Har ki Pauri during the Vedic times. Har ki Pauri is also the spot where the river Ganga leaves the mountains and enters the plains.
Har ki Pauri ghat was full of people early in the morning. Some were having a holy dip in the river while others were getting tonsured before offering the puja to their ancestors. Many were sitting with folded hands at the river bank offering Puja to their ancestors. There were swarms of people and the crowd only revealed the faith people had! We literally had to wiggle our way through the crowd and reach at the banks.
The whole place was filled with the aroma of incense and flowers. The chanting of prayers and the melodious hymns playing at the temples made for a respectful atmosphere. At about 6.00 am, the famous Ganga Arti started. The Purohits were performing the Arti with huge lamps (diyas) and Ganga arti song was playing at the background.
Having seen the Ganga Arti at the morning was not enough for us. We decided to watch the spectacle again in the evening. So at 5.00PM we were again back at the Har ki Pauri ghat. The steps were already full of people by then waiting like us to watch the Arti.
We found ourselves a place offered at the steps and waited for the Arti to begin. In the meantime, we saw many devotees offering prayers. Many of them were floating flowers and diyas on the river. At about six, it was announced that the Arti was about to begin. Soon there was excitement among the people who were waiting so long in anticipation. The idols were brought near the river bank.
A number of priests gathered at the ghat and started performing some rituals. The hymns were played at the background and then the lamps were lit and the priests performed the Puja with Arti. The Ganga Arti is a spectacle to watch. The whole atmosphere was such that whether you want or not, you will have a feeling of reverence and respect. The Arti in the evening is grander than that of the morning. Our wish of watching the Ganga Arti was finally fulfilled.
- An Arti is a devotional ritual that uses fire as an offering. It’s usually made in the form of a lit lamp
- The Ganga Aarti happens every morning and evening, whatever is the weather, sunny or rainy on the banks of the Ganges River in Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Varanasi. However, the ceremony is very different in each of these places.
- The Aarti takes place facing the river. The lamps are lit and circled around by the pandits (Hindu priests) in a clockwise manner, accompanied by changing or songs in praise of Mother Ganga.
- At Haridwar, there are two types of lamps – one having 100 lamps lit, while the other has 1000 lamps lit on a single lampstand.