The sacred and famous place, the Pashupatinath Temple is located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River in the eastern part of Kathmandu Valley. It is one of the most important religious site in Asia for all the Shiva devotees. Lord Shiva is considered as the god of god and goddesses and is one of the principal deities of Hinduism so Pashupatinath temple has great religious importance. One of the most fascinating rituals at Pashupatinath Bagmati Aarati is held every evening, worshipping the holy Bagmati River at this Heritage site of Kathmandu valley.
In the Hindu religion, Aarati has been given the most value for a very long time. A Bhajan is considered more valuable than a song; prayer is considered more sanctified than Bhajan, and Aarati is considered the most important of them all, it is considered as the highest form of prayer.The Bagmati is the holy river that flows in between the temple and divides the temple into two sides, the one being Pashupatinath Temple and the location of Aarati on the other.
The tradition of having an Aarati in Pashupatinath Temple started first in 2000 and it has been continuing regularly with the same grace since 2007. The Aarati starts at 6:30 pm during summer and at 5:30 pm during winter. The Aarati here is considered holy by both Hindus and Buddhists. This is one of the most mesmerizing rituals feelings while visiting Pashupatinath temple. We can see three priests perform the Aarati by taking oil lamps soaked in ghee, vegetable oil, or different type of woods and moving them in a circular motion, and dedicating their act to the divine.
The way the Aarati is moved is an excellent practice. The motions of the Diyos denote Lord Shiva, the bottom indicates the worship of the Lord’s feet, and the top is for his head. Each of the items used in the Aarati is rotated in the same manner by all the priests. Diyos are the reasons that the motions seem beautiful at night as it lights up the environment.
The priests then start lighting up fifty-four Diyos (small oil-lamp) which is raised to pray to Lord Shiva and the Bagmati River. The priest first lowers the lights four times on the ground and then revolves it seven times on the top in perfectly coordinated motions. A special dance called “Tandav” is performed at the Aarati by some of the devotees in the name of Lord Shiva.
The Aarati goes on for an hour or two and is one of the best things to experience in Kathmandu for an amazing spiritual awakening. The evening rituals with a band chanting religious songs in praise of god, playing of classical instruments, chanting of Vedic mantras, the ringing of bells, the aroma of Diyos, and lighting of oil lamps, keep the people enthralling throughout. At the end of the Aarati, a Sankha is blown. Sankha is a conch shell of ritual and religious importance in both Hinduism and Buddhism. In Hindu mythology, the Sankha is a sacred emblem of the Hindu Preserver Vishnu.
All the gods and Goddesses are worshipped at the end of the Aarati. Many devotees participate in this and the Aarati gives a different synergy there, peace of mind and most important relief. The ritual makes the evening environment dazzling. The attendees experience a blissful moment. This is a ritual in Pashupatinath that allows everyone to take part and create unity between the gods and their devotees. Usually, hundreds of devotees come at the time of Aarati and this place is most crowded on Mondays as this day is supposed to be the right day to worship Lord Shiva.
We can see many tourists come to the Aarati for a spiritual purpose. The Bagmati Aarati is a major attraction and Pashupatinath is being widely recognized for it. Many people come to be a part of the Aarati during weekends. Also, Aarati is a major attraction during Maha Shivaratri and Haritalika Teej festivals.
“The objective of this Aarati is to show our respect and gratitude towards Lord Shiva, the holy Bagmati River and finally to Goddess Parvati,” says the Bhatta who has been doing the Pashupatinath Bagmati Aarati for years. In the name of God, people feel blessed and fully active by the visit.
After the Aarati many people believe to leave the holy place with some kind of positive energy with them. This is the best place to achieve peace of mind. The Hindu religion believes in the presence of God in every living soul and this place focuses on the importance of good for everyone rather than good for just one. This belief of Hinduism is portrayed during the Aarati where prayers are sung for the enhancement of the whole humanity.
The end of the Aarati is marked by showering for the wellness of every living soul and thanking God for the kindness bestowed by him. The Aarati also teaches how Hinduism deals with death in a much open way than people in western countries do. It is very interesting to watch the Pashupatinath Bagmati Aarati at Pashupatinath Temple and the cremation site.