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Science behind Kanwar Yatra in the Shravan Month

As the holy month of Shravan begins, the much-awaited Kanwar Yatra is also all set for the month long ceremony and worshipping lord Shiva.  Kanwarias are the ones who carry decorated ‘Kanwar’ or pole on their shoulder with the covered water pots balanced on its two ends. The fair, one of the biggest religious congregations of north India, attracts over 1.25 crores Shiva devotees. The yatra is not just confined to men. A large number of women also take part in the spiritual journey. People opt to go on the Kanwar yatra with some wish or intent.

The tradition is that the water pot must not touch the ground till the time of consecration. NGO’s put up makeshift stands where the pots can be kept and put up food and medical stalls to cater to the Kanwarias.

The profile of an average kanwaria is changing and people from richer sections, including businessmen are undertaking the journey.

Why kanwarias offer Ganges water in the Shravan month?

There are some examples in mythology:

a.   The custom of carrying Kanwar started in the Treta Yuga. Lord Rama had carried the holy Ganges water from Sultanganj in a kanwar and offered to Lord Shiva at Babadham.

b.   When the churning of oceans – Samudra Manthan – took place in the month of Shravan, fourteen different types of rubies came out. Thirteen of these were distributed amongst the demons, except Halahal (poison). Lord Shiva drank the Halahal and stored it in his throat. Hence the name Neelkantha (meaning blue throat) is attributed to Shiva. To reduce the strong effect of poison, Lord Shiva wore the crescent moon on his head. All the Gods thereafter started offering the Ganges water to Lord Shiva to lessen the effect of poison. Since, this happened in the month of Shravan, since then the Shiva devotees offer the Ganges water in this month.

c.   According to the Puranas, the daemon king Ravana had brought the Ganges water from Haridwar and offered to Lord Shiva.

In mythology Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh signifies the controllers of start of a work, doing the work and completing the work respectively (creator, organizer and destroyer or winding up). Mahesh or Shiva therefore is the controller of any work which needs winding up. If any task is not getting completed we worship Lord Shiva for guidance.

The Kanwar way of worship is to take a spiritual break, relax, chant to divert the mind, go away from the stressful situation and on the way ( at har ki pori) you will get Self inspiration and ideas ( a relaxed mind is a creative mind). Collecting ganga Jal from har ki pori signifies collecting those self generated positive creative thoughts and carrying them back to your work place for use in completing the remaining task.