An aarti is a devotional ritual that uses fire as an offering. It’s usually made in the form of a lit lamp, and in the case of the Ganges River, a small diya with a candle and flowers that’s floated down the river. The offering is made to the Goddess Ganga, also affectionately referred to as Maa Ganga, goddess of the holiest river in India. The aarti takes on special significance on the auspicious occasion of Ganga Dussehra (in May or June each year), when Maa Ganga is believed to have descended from heaven to earth.
Haridwar Ganga Arti
The Ganga Aarti in Haridwar is a magnificent event that attracts around 3,000 to 30,000 tourists every evening. The number of tourists can even touch a lakh during times of important festivals. The evening ritual commences with the bringing of an idol of Ganga from a small temple that is located nearby. The goddess is carried in a decorated ‘palkhi’ (palanquin) to a platform near the river and is accompanied by the singing and dancing of the pundits as well as devotees. Worshippers then seek the blessing of the idol, following which the ceremony begins.
The pundits chant Sanskrit mantras and offer milk, honey, curd and other such items to the idol. Loudspeakers in the vicinity of River Ganga ensure that the chants can be heard by all devotees, including those who are standing far away. This is then followed by the singing of ‘Ganga Lahari’, which is a Sanskrit poem that was written by Pundit Jagannath. The pundits then ask the gathered devotees to promise that they would not pollute the sacred holy river, and the people acknowledge by raising their hands and chanting the phrase ‘Har Har Gange, Jai Ma Gange’.
What follows next is a short break wherein the workers of the Ganga Sabha collect donations that the people are willing to offer. These donations are used to meet the expenses of the Ganga Aarti, as well as for other religious and social purposes. Finally, the main Aarti begins. The Aarti is just a five-minute song, and the background music of bells enhances the overall experience.
History of Ganga Arti
The exact period when the tradition of the Ganga Aarti was started has not yet been ascertained. However, the ritual of the Ganga Aarti at the Har Ki Pauri was started by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya in the 1910s.
According to Hindu traditions and culture, the river Ganga is not a mere river; instead, it is the Divine Mother who gifts life in the form of water. When the fury of sage Kapil reduced the ancestors of Saint Bhagirath to mere ashes, the latter prayed and meditated for a very long time and was ultimately blessed with Ganga by the gods. Lord Shiva had held Ganga to reduce the steady flow of water, and the flowing water then provided liberation or moksha to the ancestors. This same water of the holy river is also believed to remove sins from the devotees who take a dip in the sacred water. The Ganga Aarti is thus a way to thank the River Ganga for all that she offers.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit the Ganga Aarti entirely depends on your personal preference. If you like to be a part of a large crowd that is bustling with activity, visit the river in May or June; and to explore a quieter side, visit the river in July and August.
Evening aartis are much more vibrant than the morning ones since the lights from the candles and diyas can be thoroughly enjoyed, and hence are more recommended.
Varanasi Ganga Arti
The aarti is always carried out facing the river Ganga. A lot of lamps are lit during the aarti. They are usually circled out by priests. It is always done clockwise. The aarti is always accompanied by different songs sung while praising the Ganga. It is believed that the lamps acquire the power of the deity.
After the aarti, devotees are supposed to cup their hands on the lamps over the flames and touch their foreheads. This is done in order to receive gratification and purification from the Goddess Ganga.
A group of young saints dressed up with silky saffron and white robes conduct this ceremony. Each pandit or saint takes up a specific spot in the Ghat and start the ritual by offering flowers to the river. The ritual includes many oil lamps like snake hood lamp which are waved in a synced motion. Conch shells are blown during the ceremony too. Yak tail fans and peacock feather fans are also waved during the ceremony. The priests end the ceremony by pouring a bowl of water into the river. Upon which, the devotees let go of small oil lamps with flowers on a leaf to float on the river.
“Thousands of devotees gather to watch this Aarti and by the end of the Ganga Arti Ceremony you can find thousands of small oil lamps floating on the river that would look like numerous stars on the water”.
How to Attend ?
A good way of witnessing the whole ritual is by being in a boat. However, you need to book a boat ride in advance. Apart from that, a lot of shops and house owner rent their balconies to tourists for viewing the aarti. You can ask the locals for that as well. In that way, you can peacefully see the whole aarti. Also, there will be lesser crowd in the balconies as compared to the ghats. You will get a taste of the local culture while interacting with the locals. If you want to see a maha aarti, then you will have to Visit Varanasi at the end of each year near Kartik Purnima.
An early morning sunrise aarti also takes place in Varanasi. Even that is beautiful. It is organised by Subah-e-Banaras. You can visit that one as well, if you are a morning person.
What to see during Ganga Aarti Ceremony?
The whole aarti is a visual treat. Seeing a group of pandits in saffron robes in beautiful. The colours in a frame are worth a watch. There is the water, the deity, the saffron robes, golden brass lamps and people. A lot of incense sticks are lit and the canvas of the evening surely seems brighter.
Watch the synchronised action of the oil lamps. It has a huge fire and those lamps are really heavy. Although, the pandits are trained to hold them. The uniformity of the movement will surely leave you baffled and speechless at the same time. Peacock feathers and yak tail fans are also waved in a synchronised manner during the aarti. After the ceremony ends, people lit small lamps and leave it in the river with flowers as offerings to Ganga. You might want to stay till the end and experience that as well. The river looks beautiful with lamps lit up.
Rishikesh Ganga Arti
Ganga Aarti special ceremony to pay tribute to holy river Ganges. It is called Ganga Aarti which happens twice in the morning and evening. in Rishikesh, this ceremony happens three places always on the bank of Ganges namely Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Triveni Ghat, and Ramjhula Parking Ghat area. But we take tourist to Parmarth Niketan Aarti that lasts for 45 minutes is followed by the chanting of Mantra ( Hanuman Chalisa ) sacred fire, essential oil, incense sticks etc.and medicinal herbs for purifying the environment. This Aarti is performed by a group of Brahmins students are getting an education in Ashram on the bank of the Ganges in the evening around 5:30 PM and anyone can take part of this ritual by giving a donation to Ashram. One has to walk about 1 Km from the Laxman Jhula Parking to reach there or there is motorboat service to reach Arti place.ItineraryThis is a typical itinerary for this productStop At: Parmath Niketan Temple, Rishikesh, Dehradun District, UttarakhandParmarth Niketan is located on the bank of Ganges in Rishikesh where each evening happens the Ganga Aarti ceremony.Duration: 2 hours
Patna Ganga Aarti
Ganga Aarti is a Spectacular Hindu Ritual that takes place on the Bank of River Ganga at Gandhi Ghat in Patna.
The Aarti is performed with 51 lamps, by a group of Priests, all draped in saffron robes, with their puja plates spread out before them.
The Aarti starts with the blowing of a conch shell and continues with the movement of incense sticks in elaborate patterns and circling of large burning lamps that create a bright hue against the darkened sky.
In order to have the best glimpse of Ganga Aarti, tourists should hire a Boat or view it from MV ganga Vihar, the floating restaurant.
Venue: Gandhi Ghat (Near NIT Campus), Patna