I find it very hard to believe that it’s already been a week since my visit to Haridwar. How time flies!
In Varanasi we failed to attend the Ganga pooja for some reason. For the last 6 months I had been dreaming of coming to Ganges again and witness this event for myself. And it happened, finally.
Straight from the plane we started to drive to Haridwar. It is only 230 km from Delhi, but Indian roads are totally unpredictable. It took us a good 6 hours to get there. After checking in the hotel, we hurried to the ghats to find a good place for watching. The heat at that night was unbearable, but we bravely battled the weather and the crowds of worshipers, who came to the river bank in great numbers. With a few minutes to spare we finally got to the ghats. The pooja started shortly after.
Ganga Aarti is an ancient ritual, which literally means a prayer for Ganges, who is the Divine Mother and The Goddess for Indian people. They come from all over India and even overseas to attend this pooja. In a Visitor’s book at our hotel there were quite a few international entries from visitors, who stated the purpose of their visit as “attending the pooja”. I recorded the same reason for myself.
This pooja takes place twice a day at the sunset and the sunrise. During Ganga Aarti the religious songs are performed by the priests and the crowd and the special lamps filled with oil or ghee and lit up. The five wicks of the lamps represent the five elements of nature: water, fire, earth, space and air. During this performance everybody faces the Ganges. Many people dip into the holy waters after the pooja. Lots of plates with flowers and candles put into the waters to deliver people’s prayers to the Gods.
Since I am not a real Indian, I decided against a full dip into the Ganges, but only stepped into the water up to my ankles. One of the old ladies was outraged by my behaviour and I was even worried that she could push me into the water. But, maybe, I misunderstood her, because nothing bad has happened to me. Quite opposite: I was blessed with holy water from the Ganges and one drop got straight into my eye.
Now I have to wait and see how my luck will change for the best! I will keep you posted.
Music: Devi Bhajan: Ganga Aarti https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5X_cMif5qPM