Varanasi, Nov 19: Every evening, as dusk descends, the Ganga Aarti is performed at the three holy cities of Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Varanasi in India. It’s a very powerful and uplifting spiritual ritual.
The aarti is carried out facing the river. The lamps are lit and circled around by the pandits (Hindu priests) in a clockwise manner, accompanied by changing or songs in praise of Mother Ganga. The idea is that the lamps acquire the power of the deity.
After the ritual is complete, devotees will cup their hands over the flame and raise their palms to their forehead in order to get the goddess’s purification and blessing.
The Varanasi Ganga Aarti takes place every sunset at holy Dasaswamedh Ghat, near Kashi Vishwanath Temple. It differs from the aartis at Haridwar and Rishikesh in that it’s a highly choreographed ceremony.
Although a spectacular must-see, some people consider it to be too much of an artificial and showy extravaganza to have a lot of meaning in a spiritual context.