Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Rishikesh: Evening Aarti

When you stay at Himalayan Hideaway, then it’s easy to go down to Rishikesh to witness the evening Ganga Aarti. This beautiful spiritual ritual is performed at dusk on the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh, Haridwar and Varanasi, and is well worth attending. 


An aarti is a devotional ritual that uses fire as an offering, usually in the form of a lit lamp.  For the Ganga Aarti, a diya, a small, shallow lamp, is filled with flowers and a candle.  The diya is offered to the Ganga, the goddess of the river, and floated downstream.  With several people launching their diyas into the fast-moving waters of the Ganges, the river looks like a gorgeous embroidered sari!

What Makes the Rishikesh Aarti Unique

In Haridwar and Varanasi, the ritual is organised and performed by Hindu priests who lead the congregation in chanting or singing hymns of praise to Ganga.  In Rishikesh, the most famous Ganga Aarti is led by the residents of the Parmarth Niketan ashram and the children studying there.  For many people, this aarti is a less elaborate and more intimate experience, allowing them to forge a bond with Ganga. 

The ceremony begins with bhajans (devotional songs), prayers and a hawan (a sacred ritual of offerings made to Agni, the fire god). The lamps are lit and the aarti acts as the climax of the ceremony. The children’s voices give the ritual a special quality.

Attending the Rishikesh Ganga Aarti

All are welcome to attend the Ganga Aarti at Parmarth Niketan. You’ll need to arrive early to secure a seat on the steps for the best view of the action.  Before entering the area, you’ll remove your shoes and store them at the entrance. You can sit quietly and observe the proceedings or join the crowd in singing the bhajans. Your hosts at Himalayan Hideaway can advise the best time to go and will happily organise the excursion for you!

No comments:

Post a Comment