Monday, July 25, 2011

Evening Aarti at Pashupatinath...

Evening Arati during Sravan month, for the river Bagmati at Pashupatinath Temple Ghats.
This graceful co-ordinated ritual conducted by a group-3 or 5- of young priests, pays homage to the river Bagmati everyday without fail.
It is conducted from across the Pashupatinath temple, high up on the stone-paved terrace across the river,  and near the steps to the temple, burning pyres on the Arya Ghat.
Death and Celebration at Pashupatinath

If you notice carefully, you will see a coffin open at the Arya Ghat across from the banks on which the evening Arati is taking place. These coffins, most probably carry bodies of expatriate workers killed on foreign shores. People walk around the few mourners, family members? urchins, gawking-tourists, pilgrims and strollers, walking around the space , up the stairs to visit the temple.
And curiously, the smell of burning flesh does not linger...

The polluted grey-black waters of the Bagmati for a few moments conjure the myth of  clarity and serenity. 
The overcast skies and smoke from the burning ghats of Pashupatinath from across the bridge crossing the Bagmati.
Having waited a decade to come back and visit the temple, it was an unexpected bonus to witness this beautiful ritual..
The ladies who attend to the space where the priests perform this ritual beckoned to come and sit right behind them! Up above us on the platform, singers sat on small covered platforms.
We sat and watched and I could not bear to disturb the scene by lifting up my camera, though it was small. Everything was done without flash, but it still felt intrusive. The spaces were together with the fragrant incense wafting towards us,  and the burning bodies far away on the other side, yet it all looked  as if one could stretch out and touch, forgetting the chasm in between.

When at one stage,  we were handed finger length stubs of candles, and I hesitated, the lady beckoned me to come towards the  beautiful polished silver tiered lamps. Jostling to light the one on my right, the lady again called me out to the middle one and made space for, so if in a dream, I bent down, and touched the little stub onto the white one here, and then another and another.....

High above the black-grey waters of the polluted Bagmati..for a long heartbeat...
This is the final Aarti with camphor/lights.
It is followed  with that using a conch, water, flowers, fans/whisks.


  1. Look great..I have always wanted to witness one such Aarti!

  2. Thankyou Sridharan! Wish I had a more sophisticated camera:-)

  3. Dear Shri
    Very nice post! Wondering how did I miss it.

  4. Thankyou Ushnishda; really wish I had the DSLR then!

  5. its one beautiful moment that your beholds forever. I recently visited Pasupathinath but strangely nothing seemed to disturb the fact that i was awestruck at the temple..not even the smell of the burning flesh

    1. True Anusha! During this ceremony you forget everything else!