“Aarati” or prayer songs performed morning and evening at the Ganges River in Rishikesh. We were there for the evening. Also involves an offering to the river of flowers, camphor, incense and lamp lighting. This is the god Shiva that is being worshipped there. Many people in the group swam in the Ganges. I just dipped my toe 🙂
The Aarti or prayers sung to the Gods is done by boys from an ashram/orphanage called Parmarth Niketan. At the orphanage, boys study with a Vedic priest to perform rituals and specifically fire ceremonies. When the boys come of age, they can decide whether or not they want to become Vedic priests or if they would like to live a life in another role like householder.
This is the footbridge that we had to cross to get to the other side of the Ganga River to attend Aarti. Cows and monkeys also cross the bridge. As you probably know, cows are sacred in India and in Hinduism so they roam free and are respected and fed by the people. The monkeys will jump on you or “attack” you and take your stuff. One of the other participants had her glasses taken by a monkey!