Lesser Known Facts about Kanwar Yatra
Sawan is here! Sawan is synonymous with Lord Shiva and his worshippers, also known as Kanwariyas, they travel to places like Haridwar, Allahabad, Gaumukh, and Gangotri in Uttarakhan and Sultanganj in Bihar to get Gangajal, i.e. the holy water from the river Ganaga, to offer to Lord Shiva.
The Yatra is not only about pleasing Lord Shiva, but is also to improve one’s personality. Undertaking this yatra makes the devotees confident and more focused as individuals. One understands and feels the inner power and strength. Each year many devotees take Gangajal from far way places to other places and offer the holy water on the Shiva Lingams in Shiva Temples.
Here are some must know facts about this practice of Kanwar Yatra:
- The total distance between Sultanganj and Deoghar is 115 kms and the total journey takes around 4 to 5 days to complete. The devotees get holy water or Gangajal from Sultanganj and then take a bare-footed journey to the famous Baba Baidyanath Dham at Deoghar.
- The word “kanwar” actually refers to the small bamboo pole on which two earthern pots are hung on either end for carrying the Gangajal on both their shoulders. During the journey, the Kanvarias get the earthen pots filled with holy water for pouring on Lord Shiva’s temple by balancing them on their shoulders. This pole is carried by the devotees on their shoulders till they reach Baidyanath Dham.
- The Kanwar Yatra is an acknowledgement to the great Samudra Manthan or the churning of the sea, which isone of the most important events of Hindu mythology. A dangerous poison, Halahala, came out of the sea during the churning and it threatened to destroy the universe. This yatra is a testament to the greatness of Lord Shiva, who swallowed this dangerous poison and saved the universe.
- Lord Shiva then came to the rescue and stored this poison in his throat, which became blue. Hence, earning the name Neelkanth. Lord Shiva gave life to everyone in this world by drinking the destructive poison, this is why this entire month is dedicated to him and is considered very auspicious.The impact of this poison was so strong that Lord Shiva had to wear a crescent moon of his head and all the Devatas or Gods started offering him the holy water from the river Ganges, so that poison is tamed.The tradition of offering gangajal to Lord Shiva during the holy month of Shravan has been going on ever since.
- According to Hindu mythology, Ravana (who was a great Lord Shiva devotee) had poured Holy water on his lingam at Baidyanath Temple to reduce the negative effects of the poison.
- It can be said that all the devotees who pour Ganagajal on the Shiva Lingam, appease the Lord. Lord Shiva, in return, cares for his devotees and blesses them with happiness.
- The River Ganga at Sultanganj in Bihar, is the only place where it takes a north turn. This is a miracle of Lord Shiva, from whose locks the river Ganga descends on earth.
- The kanwariyas renounce themselves of all worldly pleasures during this Yatra. They are forbidden to use even a bed for sleeping or for relaxing. They also have to stay away from any articles made of leather.
- They are also prohibited from consumption of alcohol and non vegetarian food. They follow a strict vegetarian diet during this entire time of the Yatra.
- During the Yatra the kanwariyas continuously chant ‘’Bol Bam’’and also sing bhajans or hymns in praise of Lord Shiva.