Banaras, also known as Varanasi and Kashi, is one of the most ancient and prominent religious hubs of India. And one of the most ancient ritual of this archaic city is the Ganga aarti.
Ganga aarti, one of the oldest prayer rituals of Banaras, is a spectacular ceremony in which prayers to river Ganga, who is hailed as a Goddess in Hindu mythology, are carried out. Camphor is lit and 7 priests in a unique dress code offer rhythmic prayer to River Ganga every evening at Dashashwamedh Ghat with huge grandeur. With the passage of years, this magnificent Ganga Aarti has not only become the most time-honored ritual of the city but has also made its mark across the world as a prominent attraction for international tourists coming to Banaras.
The aarti is done every evening at 6:45 pm, that is approximately 45 minutes after sunset and lasts for about 45 minutes. But on Monday, the age-old ritual of doing the prayers after the sun sets was broken and the aarti was done during the daytime. Hundreds of people thronged the Dashashwamedh Ghat to see the Ganga aarti being done during the daytime after a period of 26 years. On other ghats of Banaras as well, the Ganga aarti was performed during the day time.
The reason behind performing the aarti during the day on August 7 was the lunar eclipse that was to begin later in the evening. As per Hindu rituals, it is forbidden to enter temples or offer prayers a few hours before the eclipse. Therefore, the aarti was done in the afternoon at 12:40.
Prior to this, Ganga aarti was performed during the daytime in the year 1991 when a lunar eclipse was to begin at 10:52 pm and therefore it was forbidden to offer any prayers after 1:52 pm.
From Tuesday onward, the Ganga aarti on Dashashwamedh Ghat will be done at its usual time after sunset.