After little rest, we set-off for the Har-Ki Pauri for Arti Ceremony. Har Ki Pauri means Steps for Lord Shiva. Every evening Pandas (priests) of Haridwar performs Ganga Arti at the Ghat, bank of river Ganga, to welcome this holy river into the plain of India. Watching this spectacular ceremony can be a lifetime experience for anybody. Well Arti time was 7 P.M. so we were strolling on the Ghat. These Ghats were not new place for me… after 12 years back I was again here but now the things has been changed… Ghats had reconstructed and some more bridges have taken place on the river…
Ghat was bustling with lots activities. Devotees were gathering at the Ghat for Arti ceremony. Other sorts of activities were also taking place there. Hawkers were buzy to sell their stuff like flowers, Plastic sheets, Diya (wick Lamp), Sindur (Red Colour) and so many other things, which could use for Arti... Men who were in blue dress were roaming around to collect money, which used for the Arti ceremony. Baggers and sadhus (hermits) were also asking for money from the devotees…
We crossed Ghat through the bridge and went to the opposite site of Har-Ki-Pauri to see the complete view of Arti…Arti was about to start and everybody got buzy to search a good place. We also searched place for us. Eventually ceremony starts. Devotional song was blearing on speaker and pandas were swinging huge lamps around Ganga… Everybody was enjoying the ceremony and suddenly people stood by their place and we couldn’t see anything…now we were just listing but the atmosphere was utterly devotional that time.
After Arti we strolled in Ghat for a while and then set on the stairs of Ghat, our feet dipped in glacial water of Ganga. We almost spent one hour with great relaxation. Though it was peak of summer but the breeze coming through the Ganga was making it very pleasant. This time Ghat was still bursting with of lots of activity. Everyone was busy with their jobs. Then we moved to market, which was near to Ghat. We found a restaurant and had dinner. We were badly exhausted so back to hotel and slept soon…
Next Morning we woke-up by the mantras and devotional music, which were blaring into Market in praise of Ganga. I think these songs go on 24x7. I still remember some of them – Ganga tera pani amrit….Mano to mai ganga ma hu, na mano to bahta pani…Ganga maiya mai jub tak ke pani rahe, mere sajana teri zindgani rahe etc etc…
Today we start our day from Kusha Gaht, which was another Ghat near to Har ki Pauri. When we reached there so many pandas (priest) came to us for puja (worship). They were fighting with each other for us coz everybody wants us to go with them, though we were not interested in any sort of puja (worship) but we found one young and good panda so we performed a short puja. Kusha Ghat was engage with lots of Hindu activity like Mundan, Janeu Sanskar, Shradha, Pind Daan etc. etc… Many cows were roaming around and people were giving them food. Pandas were also roaming around to find Jajman (client). By the time we finished roaming around Kush Ghat, it was 2 O'clock. Temperature was very high and heat strokes were very fast. We decided to have lunch and back to hotel.
Evening time, we went to market. Market was jam packed with all sort of national-international devotees. Shops were decorated with many sort of colourful stuff like Rudraksha, Shankha, Vibhuti, Packet of Prasaad, many type of necklaces, wrist bands, audio-video cassatas, stones, coins and the pictures and statues of Gods. Almost every shopkeeper was selling the plastic cans to filled holy water of Ganga. Next year in 2010 Kumbha mela will be held in Haridwar. So the preparations were going on and roads were getting more and more dusty. Many sorts of vehicle like car, bike, scooter, cycle, rickshaw, bulk cart along with cows and buffalos were on the road and the ocean of people were making their way from all these, but no one seemed bothered about it. Otherwise, pedestrians have to be careful about the vehicles all the time.
Well today, we decided to go inside the Har ki Pauri campus, main Ghat of Ganga, which made by King Vikrmaditya. This is the most sacred place of Ganga, where Amrit (Nectar) fall down. My plan was to float a diya (floating wick lamp) to pay my reverence to holy river Ganga so I went for a street hawker.
I asked him prize.
He said – 30 bucks for middle size diya and 50 to 100 bucks for bigger size diya.
When I moved for another hawker, he shouted form behind - how much you will pay for this middle size diya ?
I said – 20 bucks only. He said – ok, take it.
Moral of the story is that you have full scope for haggling. These Diya comes with 2 incense sticks, one small diya to lit and different flower petals. These things are intact into a dona (made by dry leaves).
Before we entered in the Har ki Pauri, we took off our shoes in shoes keeping room. They kept our shoes and gave us a token. When we reached inside campus, many devotees were taking holy bath in the holy river. When I was going to float my Diya in to Holy River, one panda came to me and said – first you have to complete this puja otherwise your wishes would never come true. Other panda said - first you perform a puja for diya only then u can float the diya into Ganga. We were disappointed by this but I ignored everything and lit my diya. I was about to float, one panda said from behind – direction of your diya is in wrong side. I replied - Pandit ji !!! Man Cahnga To Kathoti Mai Ganga.(if your soul and your intention is pure then nothing can be wrong). Ultimately, god sees your intension not direction of Diya and I floated Diya into Ganga, which was flowing nicely. When we turned, one Panda said – if everybody will talk like you then how will we survive and feed our family ? I liked his honesty so gave him Dakshina (donation) and made my way to temples. There again pandas were trying to make us fool for some bucks only, which was very heart breaking so we back from there as soon as possible.
After this, we again went to opposite site of har-ki-Pauri for Arti. This time we searched a good place in height to see a perfect view of Arti. Today, again people stood up from their seat when Arti starts. I saw a foreigner couple, who were struggling to see Arti but they were not able to see. I thought don’t know where from they came here for this occasion, so I served the tradition of Atithi Devo Bhav (Guest is God)and gave them my place to see Arti. After Arti we strolled in ghat for long time, which is one of my very favorite thing to do in Haridwar at evening.
After roaming around Ghat, we moved to market, searched a restaurant for dinner, and then back to hotel. Though we couldn’t do much today but it was a tiring day so soon we slept.