Ganga Aarti Rituals: Each night along the Ghats, closing prayer rituals gather crowds of thousands. Sacred ways of ancient times are practiced still today. Priests are trained for years in the ancient ceremony of fire rituals, chanting powerful Vedic mantras; they create sacred offerings over camphor lit fires. The chanting fills my ears. I am transfixed, drawn into the mystical vibrations of the meditation. The ceremony of smoke and fire light up the darkness, seen from our row boat view of the docks.
Our own ritual begins “Leave your burdens of life at the river. The ganga can absorb all sorrow. Carry a lighter load on your shoulders- the river will lighten your spirit.” We offer our own prayers to the ganga through intentions placed on marigold petals and a candle housed in a leaf-cup, which we set aflame, left free to drift away on the ganga, lighting up the dark river and lightening our shoulders.
Through ritual offerings and chanting of mantras to the gods, it is then that God is awakened and asks Å“WHO is remembering me?” The greatest prayer is not on small superficial things like more money or a new car, but higher attainments, “Lord give me the power to do good. Give me the right brain to do good, to be enlightened.” THIS is the prayer…
Rituals are meant to generate the energy from within, a focusing of the mind. A purification of the body, the personality, the environment; creating the means for a pure life. Ceremonial practices evoke the soul to open into universal truth and love. Elevating man to the very divinity we recognize in GOD. Through meditation, prayer and ritual we remember that the divinity, that which we seek outside of ourselves, that which we seek in God, actually resides within -within our own hearts.
A contemplation by Swamiji on Karma Kanda…Even here, the power of intention is spoken of.“To KNOW why one is doing all things, one must have faith in the self, without faith, without the reason, all things are dead. All that is visible in the world is an expression of God. Have faith. Why turn our back towards God and our face towards the world? Turn around. See with right eyes. God is everywhere.”