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Kanwar Yatra 2023: Lakhs Of Devotees Undertake Pilgrimage - What Is It?

During the Kanwar Yatra, devotees from different parts of India, dressed in saffron attire walk on foot to collect water from the Ganga from Haridwar, Gomukh, and Gangotri which is then offered to Lord Shiva.

Shravan: Kanwariyas in Jabalpur
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Millions of devotees called Kanwariyas or kriyas started their journey for the Kanwar Yatra 2023 which commenced on Monday (July 4) and will continue till July 15.  Nearly 15-20 lakh devotees are undertaking the annual Hindu pilgrimage, which usually starts in the month of July or August, commonly known as the month of Sawan, according to the Hindu calendar. Kanwar yatra is considered to be a symbol of faith, devotion and the unbreakable bond between a devotee and Lord Shiva. 

Mythology story behind Kanwar Yatra

The origin of Kanwar Yatra has its origin in Hindu mythological stories and scriptures. It is believed that Lord Shiva consumed poison during Samudra Manthan, a war between gods and devils, and to tame the effect of poison, all the lords poured water from the Ganga on Shiva. But, this too has a different version like every other story. Some believe that the ritual of Kanwar yatra started when King Ram offered water from the Ganga to the statue of Shiva or shivalinga in an earthen pot.  

What happens at Kanwar Yatra? 

During the Kanwar Yatra, devotees from different parts of India, dressed in saffron attire walk on foot to collect water from the Ganga from Haridwar, Gomukh, and Gangotri which is then offered to Shiva. They carry two earthen pots filled with water, hung on a decorated bamboo stick. Kanwariyas balance the bamboo stick on their shoulders. According to devotees, pots cannot be kept on the ground or cannot touch the ground in any scenario since the dust can make the water impure.

The start date of this pilgrimage differs every year, and in 2023, the Kanwar Yatra is starting on July 4.

During the Kanwar Yatra, devotees carry weight on their shoulders and walk barefoot for many kilometres through rough terrain and under blazing heat. 

Throughout the route of the Kanwar Yatra, Kanwar camps are set up for devotees to rest. Arrangements to hang their bamboo stick with pots or kanwars are made. Free meals, water and medical assistance are provided to devotees in these camps. 

Traffic Guidelines for Kanwar Yatra 2023

The governments of different states are working together to make the entire event of the Kanwar Yatra peaceful and comfortable for every citizen irrespective of their participation in the Kanwar Yatra. The Uttarakhand government has banned heavy vehicles from entering Haridwar during the entire period of the Yatra. Meat and liquor shops are advised to remain closed along the route of Kanwar Yatra. Police have announced the use of drones for the surveillance process. Noida police have barricades in certain areas to prevent unexpected incidents. Commuters have been advised to use alternate routes to avoid traffic.  Delhi police have announced a fixed path for devotees. The route of the journey will start from the Ghazipur border and will pass through several areas of the city, including Loni, Sahibabad and Meerut. The Uttarakhand government has deployed 10,000 security personnel. CCTV has been installed throughout the route of the Kanwar Yatra. 

To ensure effective monitoring of the Kanwar Yatra, Western Uttar Pradesh has been divided into five zones. The first zone comprises Meerut, Hapur, Bulandshahr, and Baghpat. The second zone includes Ghaziabad and Gautam Buddha Nagar. The third zone consists of the Saharanpur division, while Bareilly is designated as the fourth zone, and Agra as the fifth zone. 

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