Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat is a Hindu ritual by the Ganges River in Varanasi, India. This nightly ceremonies is attended and watched by hundreds of worshipping locals and curious tourists from all over the world. It is free for all to witness but you should arrive earlier than 6 in the evening to get a good viewing spot. Watch out for your personal belongings when the crowd gets thicker as the ritual progresses.
If you want to avoid the crowd, get on one of the double-decker boats for a good view of the whole ceremony from the Ganges River. However, this convenience comes with a price. Boat owners will charge you exorbitant amount but don’t go beyond 100 rupees ($1.8).
It is also wise if you have an Indian friend or a guide to explain to you on what’s going on to elevate your experience of being there.
Ganga Aarti is a gathering of Hindu priests to perform the Worship to Fire(Agni Pooja). This ritual is devoted to Lord Shiva, River Ganges, Agni (Fire), Surya (Sun) and the whole universe.
In Hindu mythology, the Ganges is believed to be a goddess, thus, calling it Mother Ganges.
And as you can see below, the ritual starts from India’s most sacred river – the Ganges River.
As a foreign tourist and non-Hindu believer, I found it as an interesting ritual that involves a lot preparations.
There’s chanting all over the place.
There’s also incense burning where the young priests brandish the flames in all four directions.
This is not your regular ritual. There’s choreography involved, too. The priests are synchronized in all the actions and hand gestures that go with the hymns, bells and cymbals.
And then, there’s the fire from the brass lamp with a snake hood.
After the fire, comes the swishing of the peacock’s feather. I really have no idea why. 😉
The ceremonies end when the priests go back to the Ganges River where they all pour the excess water they haven’t used up.
After Ganga Aarti, people holding baskets of marigold flowers go around and ask for donations. You can buy one of those flowers with candles and let them float into the river.