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A year of Ganga Aarti in Jankapur, event continues to beckon religious tourists

Jun 11 2015 | 04:17 pm

JANAKPURDHAM: For the Hindu devotees, the word ‘Ganga Aarti’ evokes the picture of an evening ritualistic event performed alongside the Ganges River in the Indian state of Varanasi.

janakBut for a year, the veneration ceremony by the same name organized alongside an ancient Ganga Sagar pond in Janakpurdham in Dhanusha district in the country is equally becoming popular among those visiting this ancient capital city of Mithila State of King Janak, thanks to its grandeur and resemblance to the one performed with flamboyance in sacred Indian city – Varanasi.

The same religious ritual recently completed a year and was celebrated with fanfare, adding a new dimension to the religious tourism to this birthplace of one of the luminaries of Nepal – Sita, the consort of Lord Ram.

An MoU establishing sister city relations between Varanasi and Janakpurdham was signed in November when Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India was in Nepal in connection with attending the 18th SAARC Summit.

According to Coordinator of the Save Historical Janakpur Campaign, Ram Ashish Yadav, the ‘Ganga Aarati’ in Janakpur has drawn millions of pilgrims (religious tourists) over the year and is believed to beckon millions more as Janakpur already had a substantial tourism industry due to its significance in the Hindu religion.

President Ram Baran Yadav, Chief Justice Ram Kumar Prasad Shah, various Ministers, Heads of various diplomatic missions, including the Indian and the Sri Lankan Ambassadors, former Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar State, India Sushil Kumar Modi among other dignitaries have also marked their presence in the Aarti.

The Aarti, which is performed by five priests regularly since a year, is often overwhelmed by the devotees and tourists during the festivity like Bibaha Panchami, Ram Nawami, Janaki Nawami, Chhath and Dola among others.

Most of these festivals fall between September and December, the period with favorable weather for tourists to visit here.

Legend goes that whosoever takes a dip here in the Ganga Sagar in Janakpurdhan attains moksha (liberation). According to some scholars of the Mithila region, the religious ritual in the Ganga Sagar bestows one with property and prosperity.

It is also believed that a shower in this pond amounts to taking a dip in the Ganges River during the Maha Kumba Mela for Indians and worshipping here helps secure one heavenly abode after the death.

Moreover, the citation of the Janakpur’s Ganga Sagar in the religious scriptures like the Vishnu Purana, the Vayu Puran, the Bhagwat Geeta, the Balmiki Ramayan and the Jatak of Buddha the 15th as a pious land and one of the holiest of pilgrimages has also added gravitas to the Ganga Aarti.

It is also believed that the Vardamna Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara (teacher or reviver of Jain philosophy) was born in Janakpur. Lord Krishna is also believed to have visited Janakpur thrice during his lifetime over various incidents.

Not only that, the place is also considered a pious land for Muslim Sufi Saints as it was the place of parctise for this sect of Muslims.

In a country like Nepal with a Hindu majority population, the Ganga Aarti could add another dimension in religious tourism, opines Coordinator Yadav. The Committee has been launching a campaign that is believed to further augment the religious importance of the place.

It is believed that nowhere in the world are Goddess Ganga and Sita worshipped simultaneously but in Janakpurdham. The worship of land is referred to the worship of Sita who was spotted in land and worshiping the river is referred as the worship of Goddess Ganga.

On the first anniversary of the First Ganga Aarati, a grand cleaning campaign of the Ganga Sagar and Dhanush Sagar was carried out, all by the local community, shared Ashok Kumar Jalan, a senior member of the Save Historical Sites Campaign, bemoaning that the government was not.

Janakpurdham, home to ancient sages and women sages as Astabakra, Gargi, Maitrayi, Yagyabalkya among others, now has another reason to boast of – the Ganga Aarati. RSS

Panipokhari

Kathmandu, Nepal

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