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Ganga Aarti

The world famous Ganga Aarti in Varanasi is a massive ceremony or aarti to the Ganges River. An aarti is traditionally a ritual fire offering to a Hindu god and goddess. In this case, the devotional offering is made to the Goddess Ganga, affectionately referred to as Ma Ganga, the goddess of the most holy river in India. Ma Ganga is the Divine Feminine herself in the form of the Ganges River. She who provides for all life. The aarti is performed in honor of her, on the riverfront, by a group of young Hindu priests, draped in saffron-colored robes with their puja plates spread out before them.
The ceremony commences with the blowing of a conch shell, the waving of incense sticks and large aarti lamps that glow against the darkened sky. Ritual movement of the lamps is tightly synchronized to the chants of hymns and clangs of cymbals. Large aarti lamps are lit and waved by priests in a clockwise manner, accompanied by chants in praise of Mother Ganga. The lamps acquire the power of the deity. Upon completion, devotees cup their hands over the flame and raise their palms to their forehead to receive the Goddess’s purification and blessing.