March of Kanwariya or the holy yatra by lakhs of saffron clad Hindu pilgrims start during the month of Shravan, the wet season each year in India. A long human chain visits Hindu pilgrimage places of Haridwar, Gaumukh and Gangotri in Uttarakhand, to fetch holy waters of Ganges River.
Who are these people?
Kanwariyas are devotees of Lord Shiva who complete a journey to Haridwar, Gaumukh, and Gangotri to fetch the waters of the Ganges. Kanwar Yatra is named after ‘Kanvar’ – a single pole made of bamboo, with two roughly equal loads fastened at opposite ends.
Story behind the Yatra
As the Hindu mythologies dictates, Kanwar yatra is related to the churning of ocean milk. Lord Shiva is believed of inhaling poison in a bid to save the world from burning due to its heat. However, afterwards, Shiva suffered from negative energy of poison. In Treta yug, Ravana, devotee of Shiva, brought holy water of Ganga by using kanwar and poured it on Shiva’s temple in Puramahadev. Thus releasing Shiva from the negative energy of the poison.
Also read: Why I am a Hindu: A Christian Perspective
The Yatra used to be a small affair undertaken by a few saints and older devotees until the late 1980s, when it started gaining popularity.
Numerous Hindu organisations and other voluntary organizations like local Kanwar Sanghs, the Rashtryia Swayam Sewak Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. setup camps along the National Highways during the Yatra, where food, shelter, medical-aid and stand to hang the Kanvads, holding the Ganges water is provided.