HARIDWAR – It stands at the gateway to the four pilgrimages of Uttarakhand. Geographically and geologically, Haridwar, lying at the feet of Shiva’s hills, i.e., Shivaliks, in the Haridwar district of Uttarakhand, is a doorway. Suryavanshi prince Bhagirath performed penance here to salvage the souls of his ancestors who had perished due to the curse of sage Kapila.
The penance was answered and the river Ganga trickled forth form Lord Shiva’s locks and its bountiful water revived the sixty thousand sons of king Sagara. In the Tradition of Bhagirathi, devout Hindus stand in the sacred waters here, praying for salvation of their departed elder.
It is doorway to the sources of the Ganga and the Yamuna, 3000 to 4500 meters up into the snowy ranges of the central Himalayas. The ‘Aarti’ worship of the Ganga after sunset and the floating ‘dia’ (lamp) is a moving ritual. According to astrologers, the ‘Kumbh Fair’ takes place when the planet Jupiter enters Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries. According to mythology, ‘Devas’ (Gods) and ‘Asuras’ (Demons) churned the ocean to obtain Nectar and when the coveted ‘Kumbha’ (pitcher) of Nectar (Amrita) which gave immortality was obtained from the depths of ocean, one of the ‘Devas’ whisked away the ‘Kumbha’ from the ‘Asuras’ and evading from the ‘Asuras’, stopped at four places viz. Haridwar, Allahabad (Prayag), Nasik and Ujjain before he finally arrived into the safety of heaven.
A few drops of Nectar are supposed to have spilled over on the water at these four places and sages, saints and pilgrims started periodically to flock to each of these ‘Tirthas’ to celebrate the divine event. In fact , it is a unique event that blends religious and social features alike.