‘Ganga Aarati’ performed every evening on the banks of the river Ganges at Varanasi (Kasi) is not only a holy ritual but also has become a major tourist attraction. One finds foreign tourists spending three to four days to have a glimpse of this daily ritual from a boat on the river.

On the same lines, Sri Budhavarapu Charitable Trust (SBCT) has been conducting ‘aarati’ on the banks of river Godavari on all full-moon (Pournima) days.

On the occasion of Karthika Pournima (full-moon day) the SBCT is set to organise ‘Godavari River Aarati-2013’, on November 17. A 100 vedic pandits will participate in a ceremony where 13 types of ‘aaratis’ will be offered. More than one lakh devotees are expected to light ten lakh ‘karteeka deepams’ as a culmination of a ritual that was observed over the last 36 pournamis (once a month).

A special programme organised on the eve of Karthika Pournima Aarati include fusion jugalbandi by ‘Raagamahati’ Phani Narayana Group, Hyderabad and ‘Pranatosmi Goutami’, a Kuchipudi dance ballet directed by Nistla Sudhamala, in-charge of Academy of Indian Dances and Centre for Higher Learning, Hyderabad.

Godavari’s significance

India’s second largest river Godavari which is known as Dakshin Ganga (Southern Ganges) originates from river Ganga (underground water) near Trimbak in Nashik. It enters Andhra Pradesh at Basar in Adilabad district. While passing through Andhra Pradesh it touches a small village called Dharmapuri, which is a pilgrimage village with many ancient Hindu temples and river Godavari serving as spiritual place in true sense for bathing. While crossing the Deccan Plateau, it turns to flow in a southeast direction until it empties into the Bay of Bengal.

Aarati and its significance

This light ceremony filled with song, prayer, ritual and a palpable sense of divinity is called Aarati. The essence of the ‘aarti’ ceremony is that all day long God offers us light – the light of the sun, the light of life, the light of His (Her) blessings. Aarti is a time when we say ‘thank you’.

The aarti takes place facing the river. The lamps are lit and circled around by the Vedic Pandits in a clockwise manner, accompanied by chanting or singing in praise of Mother Ganga.