» Reasons Behind Kanwar Yatra

In the month of Shravan Saffron-clad kanwarias congregate at the celestial town Haridwar to collect holy ganga jal from Har-ki-Pauri and return home traversing barefoot to offer the Gangajal to Lord Shiva Lingam on the occasion of Shivratri.

Kanwarias are the ones who carry decorated ‘Kanwar’ or pole on their shoulder with the covered water pots balanced on its two ends.

The fair, one of the biggest religious congregations of north India, attracts over 1.25 crores Shiva devotees. The yatra is not just confined to men. A large number of women also take part in the spiritual journey. People opt to go on the Kanwar yatra with some wish or intent.

The tradition is that the water pot must not touch the ground till the time of consecration. NGO’s put up makeshift stands where the pots can be kept and put up food and medical stalls to cater to the Kanwarias.

The profile of an average kanwaria is changing and people from richer sections, including businessmen are undertaking the journey.

The most remarkable of the lot are the dak kanwarias. They complete their yatra running all the way back. These marathon runners travel in a group and complete the journey within a specified period of 24 to 72 hours depending on the distance of their destination. But, as in a relay race, each leg of the journey is covered by a different Kanwaria from the same group. While one of them runs with the pot filled with water, the others follow him in a vehicle and take over from him after a fixed time.

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