Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Kanwar Yatra: What is it?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kanwar Yatra

Mains level: NA

kanwar yatra

Central Idea: The Kanwar Yatra, a significant annual pilgrimage, commenced on July 4 and will continue until July 15.

What is Kanwar Yatra?

  • This pilgrimage sees millions of devotees, known as Kanwariyas or Kriyas, undertaking a journey to collect water from the Ganga River and offer it to Lord Shiva.
  • The Kanwar Yatra symbolizes the unbreakable bond between devotees and Lord Shiva and is considered an act of faith and devotion.

Mythological Origins of Kanwar Yatra

  • Samudra Manthan: Kanwar Yatra is believed to have originated from the mythological story of Samudra Manthan, where Lord Shiva consumed poison to save the world. To alleviate the effects of the poison, all the gods poured water from the Ganga River on Lord Shiva.
  • King Rama’s Offering: Another version suggests that the ritual of Kanwar Yatra began when King Ram offered water from the Ganga to a statue of Lord Shiva (shivalinga) in an earthen pot.

Customs and Rituals Performed

  • Collection of Ganga Water: Devotees, dressed in saffron attire, embark on foot to collect water from the Ganga River at Haridwar, Gomukh, and Gangotri. They carry two earthen pots filled with water, hung on a decorated bamboo stick, which they balance on their shoulders.
  • Significance of Purity: Devotees consider it essential to keep the pots from touching the ground or getting contaminated by dust, as it may impure the sacred water.
  • Challenging Journey: Kanwariyas undertake the yatra barefoot, covering long distances in challenging terrains and extreme weather conditions.

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