A confluence of three sacred rivers – the Ganges, the Yamuna and the Saraswati – the Triveni Ghat in Rishikesh is sacrosanct to the Hindus in India. It is believed that taking a dip in the waters at the ghat washes away sins and purifies the soul. Every morning and evening, thousands gather at Triveni Ghat for the Maha Aarti or prayers to the revered Ganga.
The sunset Ganga Aarti at Triveni Ghat draws hundreds of visitors each day from all cultures, religions and walks of life. Only the pundits (priests) perform the special aarti. It begins with chants and calling out to Goddess Ganga. Oil diyas (lamps) are lit, placed on flower-filled leaf boats and released in the pious waters of the river. Amidst the rhythmic beating of drums, ringing bells and blowing conches, the Hindu priests light up the cotton wicks on their candelabra, stand up on their respective pedestal and in synchronised motions offer prayers.
The sight of illuminated lamps everywhere is one to behold and must not be missed if in Rishikesh. I sat mesmerised. It is magical, mystical and displays the beliefs of Hinduism. For Hindus, Ganga is more than a river. She is a goddess, our mother and as a sign of reverence to our mother, the Ganges is often referred to as ‘Ma Ganga.’
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