What better place to celebrate the new year than to celebrate it on the banks of the river Ganges in Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar. It was the greatest new year of my life as I strolled around Haridwar in search of peace and redemption. With a prayer in my heart, I stepped out of Baba Ramdev’s Yog Gram Ashram. Having lost 7 kg during my treatment here, I felt vitalised and rearing to go. I felt a new energy and charge and decided that the Ganga air will do me a lot of good.
I stepped out of my taxi into the sea of people who had come to pay homage to the holy mother and bathe in her bosom. The place was crowded with people from all parts of the world. Some were taking a bath while the others prayed for their dead ancestors.
A large part of the crowd ate putt and sabsi at the local eateries. I could not resist myself and dipped into a plate of aloo puri at a famous eatery. Then I stood in the middle of the bridge and took out my camera stand. I started shooting what can only be described as a maddening crowd of pilgrims and sadhus.
There were lame beggars begging, sadhus smoking ganja, shopkeepers and kids selling holy ornaments and others enjoying themselves in the sunshine. A mass of proud Indians was walking and striding towards the Ganga as bhajans rang in the air. The melancholic sounds of the temple bells rang aloud to vibrate the entire place.
Women, dressed up in bright sarees and ornaments, danced their way through the crowd. I filmed the entire scene with my camera and captured the kids jumping into the river for a holy dip. The whole place smelled of essence sticks as the smoke from the temple hawans bellowed into the surrounding air.
The sages walked through the sea of people with painted faces and one of them smiled when I photographed him. Many beggars throng this place haggling the passer-by for money and loose change. I gave them generously in the name of my father and prayed for his departed soul.
This is truly the Dev Bhoomi, the land of gods, the seat of prachin India, the hotbed of Vedic culture and religion. Pandits sat cross-legged as fortune tellers told people their future. Pilgrims prayed and offered alms to usher in the new year. Women and men both rang the temple bells praying for good luck and prosperity for their family. I stood amongst all this din and captured it beautifully through my lens.
Strolling down the bridge, I realised my camera battery had run out. It was time to pack up and move back towards my hotel. I turned around to take a look at this pious place and decided to visit it the next day in the evening to capture the splendour of the maya arti.