Day 9: Monday, March 12th, 2018. Holy city of Hardiwar.
Left Delhi at 9am, stopped to get chow mien for lunch, and arrived to Hardiware around 4pm.
Went to the Har-ki-Pauri by the Ganges river and witnessed the Ganga Aarti.
Har Ki Pauri is a famous ghat (steps leading to water) on the banks of the Ganges in Haridwar in the state of Uttarakand where thousands of pilgrims converge. It is the major landmark of the holy city of Haridwar which means "Lord Shiva.” "Ki" means "of" and "Pauri" means "steps". Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu are believed to have visited the Brahmakund in Har Ki Pauri during Vedic times. There is a large footprint said to belong to Lord Vishnu on a stone wall. Legend has it that some nectar (amrit) landed there after falling from a pot carried by the celestial bird Garuda.
We saw men getting their head shaved (tonsuring) on the side of the river which is an important Hindu religious practice. This sheds the person of their pride ( hair) and is offered to God, thereby getting rid of their pride and arrogance and makes them closer to God.People also do this as a type of wish fulfillment.
Hindus believe in the concept of birth and rebirth and it is believed that during the Mundan ceremony of a child, the first time that the head is shaved, is to free him or her from the bonds of the last birth. Shaving off head is the symbol that the child is beginning his or her new life in this birth is an important rite of passage.
Each morning and evening at sunset priests perform Ganga Aarti here, when lights are set on the water to drift downstream. A large number of people gather on both the banks of river Ganges to sing the Mother Ganga’s praises and Hindu priests (pandits) hold large fire bowls in their hands and circle them in a clockwise manner.
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.
People also float earthen Diyas with burning flickers and flowers in them as a symbol of hope and wishes.
Many men dressed up as priests could be fake and trying to get money from you as well as several people asking for donations to help with the upkeep. We purchased diyas with flowers that were lit with candles and floated down river after we made a prayer that was man guided us to say and then urged us to pay a “donation” for $100usd on behalf of our families. They were quite upset when we did not do this.
Had dinner at Dawat Restaurant and had local snack foods: Puri Bhaji ( fried bread and potato Mix Pakora, and Aloo Chat. For dessert we had fhe Gulab Jamun.
Returned to the hotel and I helped a woman who had slipped and fell and bumped her head in the lobby.