Thursday, July 02, 2009

Haridwar: A Celebration of Faith

Though I am Hindu, and a Brahmin at that, I haven’t really practiced the religion in textbook terms. My knowledge about the details of Hinduism is also abysmally poor. I had not come to Haridwar for a pilgrimage. I was visiting Haridwar because I liked the description of the place in a ‘Lonely Planet’ travel book on India. Nevertheless, after reaching Haridwar earlier today, and having seen nothing interesting, I was cursing ‘Lonely Planet’ for having written good things about the place. This perception was however, destined to change. For, as the evening set in and I positioned myself at the Har-Ki-Pauri ghat to witness the aarti of the Holy Ganges, I could sense that something grand was in the offing. By the time I set my camera up, the place was bustling with pilgrims from all parts of the country. Most of them had diyas in their hand. An elderly couple sitting next to me informed me that as the aarti proceeds, the diyas would be let into the river in small baskets of leaves. I also saw vendors selling milk to the pilgrims, which was also to be offered to the river. Such was the size of the gathering that it required the temple officials to supervise the actions of the crowd. Soon, the constant murmur gave way to a hymn. And what followed was a hair-raising experience. Suddenly, an assembly of priests descended to the ghat. I could now hear loud chiming of bells. The priests carried huge torches with them, which erupted fire. The next half hour was spent in taking in this mesmerizing confluence of fire and water. As the aarti drew to a close and the chiming stopped, I kept staring at the river, astounded by the power of my own religion.


Karan said...

Good to see you getting regular with the blog. The pics are beautiful as usual. Cheers and keep up the good work.

Debanshu Mukherjee said...

Thanks Karan!!