With the start of the auspicious month of Shravan, the streets in India are filled up with barefoot, saffron clad Kanwar Yatris carrying a pitcher filled with holy water. The Kanwar Yatra takes place during the Hindu month of Shravan, is usually held in the month of July-August. The roads and highways are flooded with millions of Lord Shiva devotees. The practice bearers are known as Kanwaris (devotees of Lord Shiva) who fetch the holy water from Ganges which they offer in the local Lord Shiva temples. Every year the roads to the Pilgrim places like Haridwar, Rishikesh and Gangotri in Uttaranchal are heavily flooded in divine spirit of the Kanwaris.
With respect to the religious sentiments towards this devotional walk, the devotees undertake this laborious journey with pure hearts. The motivation for this spiritual journey may take anything from personal unfulfilled wishes to the personal devotion. This arduous journey takes hundreds of miles, sometimes it varies from 200- 250km barefooted with utmost enthusiasm and devotion. Kanwar refers to a bamboo stick on which two small pots are hanged filled with holy water, remaining on strict vegetarian and non-alcoholic diet during the pilgrimage period.
The legend of the rituals go with the most popular Hindu mythological stories of to ‘Samudra manthan’ or churning of the ocean of Milk, where Lord Shiva drank the poison in order to save the world. The toxin made Shiva’s throat turn blue and so all the demi-gods started offering the holy water to Lord Shiva. Since then, this has become a custom in Hindu beliefs.
Like other religious processions like Hola Mohalla, Durga Puja, Ganesh Visarjan and Muharram, Kanwar Yatra too has a special significance. It is mainly observed during the occasions Like ‘Maha Shivaratri and Basant Panchami’, where millions of Kavaris follow the path filled with hope and power to offer themselves to Bholeynath(Hindu God Shiva). The Yatra is not only done by men but also by women and children too can be spotted, making it the biggest religious congregation in India. Pilgrims dance on religious tunes at different venues with richly decorated Kanvars on their shoulders. On returning to their hometowns they can avail assistance provided at numerous camps to bathe, rest, dine and medical treatments. The traffic police and other civil service departments play a very strong role with strong vigil over the smooth running of the spiritual journey.
Temi, South Sikkim
Ras Al Khaimah