Animated Hindu God Painting
I see the appeal of Hinduism. Where at home religion is a part of your life, in India it is so intertwined with life that it’s hard to differentiate one from the other. There is so much color, light, music, and opportunity for celebration in the faith. Religion is part of your cuisine, your style, your friends, even your social standing in the community. For young children, there are animal gods, many dressed in different costumes and there are numerous, fun stories about their powers and various manifestations. If I was a kid and I had to chose between dressing up, being quiet, behaving and going to church or getting to run around with all my friends while fire twirlers were performing and cymbals were gonging, it wouldn’t be hard decision.
One Hindu celebration that we witnessed in both Rishikesh and Varanasi was called the Ganga Aarti Ceremony. Ganga Aarti is performed everyday along the banks of the Ganga (Ganges) river. There were so many people and so much energy surrounding the event that it literally felt like a once a year type celebration – a 4th of July if you will. But no, this was just another regular Tuesday, or Wednesday or any day – it didn’t matter. The ceremony features priests facing the river and performing various symbolic offerings with candles, and rice, and feathers, etc. Meanwhile another man is leading the group in song or just chanting. Hundreds of people are along the riverside releasing candles into the Ganga. Thousands of others are sitting nearby watching the ceremony while still many more are just standing around talking, from what I could tell.
Nightly Ganga Aarti Ceremony in Rishikesh
Sarah participating in the ceremony
Flower boats for release into the Ganga during the ceremony
Varanasi Ganga Aarti Ceremony Madness
Ganga Aarti in Varanasi
Where in church, silence is expected, believers are attentive, and things go in a particular order, that could not be farther from the truth here. People move and listen and come and go and participate however they wish. It’s messy, it’s chaotic, it’s loud, and it’s just part of everyday life; but because it is impossible to separate religion from life, nobody tries to.