India has a unique, diverse culture with a lot of traditions and beliefs followed. Kanwar Yatra is one such journey performed by the devotees of Lord Shiva to Hindu pilgrimage places of Gangotri, Gaumukh, and Haridwar in Uttrakhand while in Sultanganj in Bihar where holy river Ganga flows.
Kawar Yatra (काँवर यात्रा, कांवड़ यात्रा) is an annual month-long yatra in the month of Shravan (Saawan). The festival run during the monsoon month Shrawan (July – August ).
The Kanwar Mela starts on July 22, 2018, and Sawan Shivratri is on August 9th, 2018.
Kanwars are saffron-clad Shiva devotees walk barefoot on roads with pitchers on their shoulders carrying Holy river Ganga water. The Holy water of Ganga called as “Ganga Jal” is carried by hundreds of thousands of Shiv devotees from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh who participate in Kanwar Mela every year. The Ganga Jal collected by devotees is used to bathe the shivlingam in there local temple on Amavasya ( New moon) day in Shravan month or on Maha Shivratri day.
Why the name Kanvariyas
The name Kanwar or Kavad means a pole of bamboo with a roughly equal load on both sides is balanced on shoulders, hence devotees carry the bamboo pole on their shoulders with Ganga Jal in a pitcher or earthen pots on both the ends of the bamboo pole, hence they are called Kanvariyas.
The significance of Kanwar Yatra
Worshipping Lord Shiva during the month of Shravan is considered very auspicious, it is believed that finishing the Kanwar yatra the Kanvariyas receive the divine blessing of Lord Shiva and the wish for which they have made there journey comes true.
The devotees chant ‘bol bam’, ‘Jai Shiv Shankar’ or ‘Har Har Mahadev’ and everywhere there is a festive atmosphere. Number of NGOs offer free services like food, water, tea and medical help to the Kanvariyas. A number of makeshift accommodation are constructed along the whole journey where Kanvariyas can take rest.
History of Kanwar Yatra
According to Vedas, in the month of Savan the churning of the ocean ” Samudra Manthan” took place as a result of which it was the poison which emerged out first, followed by the 14 Ratnas (Gems) including Goddess Lakshmi as well. At the last stage of churning, “Amrita” appears; to save the Universe from the vicious venom, Shiva took the venom. However, after taking the venom Shiva turned blue and started suffering from heat and according to the legends, it was Ravan who brought holy water of the Ganges by using Kanwar and released Lord Shiva from his suffering, by pouring Ganga Jal over the Shivaling of Mahadev temple. So the tradition of offering Ganga Jal to Lord Shiva during the holy month of Shravan has been going on ever since.