After finishing small purchases, we returned to our room. A friend of us in the next room called us and asked us to accompany for seeing Banaras saris nearby. We went with them and spent about 2 hours for selecting & purhasing few saris.
When we came back, we were asked to get ready for boating and seeing Ganga Aarathi. Words are not sufficient to explain the beauty of ganges and uniqueness of Gabga Aarathi. On the way of seeing the Ganga Aarathi, we visited many famous Ghats. There are nearly 64 ghats. The famous and oldest ghats of all these are the Dashashwamegha, Manikarnika and Harishchandra Ghat. Some of the ghats are made there by Hindu rulers such as Ahilya Bai Holkar of Malwa region, Peshwa’s of Gwalior, Man Singh of Amber, Jai Singh of Jaipur etc. Most of the ghats were made at the time of Maratha.
All of our group people were accomodated in a big boat. There were hundreds of boats around us, carrying Indian and foreign tourists. Some costly boats with lot of decorations and facilities were also visible, to attract rich tourists. Our local guide was explaining and making us to see the important ghats. The ghats are primarily used for bathing and puja rituals, but there are two viz., Manikarnika and Harishchandra ghats where cremations are solely performed.
The boats were taken for a ride to visit all the important ghats and finally gathered before Dashashwamedh ghat. Gange Aarathi is performed daily in the evening by a group of priests there. Through the Aarathi, Agni Pooja is performed in which a commitment is made to the Lord Shiva, Matha Gange, Surya, Agni as well as the whole universe made by the Lord Shiva. This beautiful ritual makes every moment of the evening period special and fills with the spiritual thoughts. It is performed by the brass lamps which accompanied with the mantra chant in the presence of the huge crowd. There are 5 priests on one side and 7 on another side. We were able to watch both sides, sitting in our boat.
All the priests who have to perform the Aarathi, wear same cloth, the dhoti and kurta which is tightly bind with a long towel. First they make preparation by making collection of the five elevated planks, a multi tiered oil lamp, an idol of the Goddess Ganga, flowers, incense sticks, a conch shell, a big and heavy brass lamp having a snake hood at the edge of the River Ganga. Ritual of the Gange Aarathi is performed by the students of the Vedas and Upanishads which is lead by the head priest of the Gangothri Seva Samithi. The whole event takes around 45 minutes, from 6.45 PM. Every person born in this world has to see this Ganga Aarathi in his/her lifetime.
The boats dropped us in Kedharnath Ghat. We liked to visit some temples near this ghat. This ghat is famous for Kedar temple is in this place. The belief is that our visit here is as good as visiting the kedarnath temple in the Himalayas. a real spiritual experience. We also visited Chinthamani Ganapathy temple and returned by walk to our room.
I will continue the details in my next blog.