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Friday, February 23, 2024

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Kanwars: These Sacred Water Carriers

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The kanwars have been on the road for a few days. Some more impressive than others, they converge on the shoulders of pilgrims in the direction of the Great Basin. But what is the symbolism behind it? Pandit Hanslall Sooklall explains.

The kanwars are inseparable from the festival of Maha Shivaratri which will be celebrated on Saturday 18 February.  Besides their splendor, they have a great importance: “Pilgrims build kanwars in order to bring home the sacred water of the Ganga Talao. The kanwars serve a bit like divine vehicles that protect this water.”

And since love is not a factor, kanwars can easily cost up to Rs 200,000: “Today’s kanwars are becoming more and more sophisticated. Given their size and the decorations that go with them, some can cost up to Rs 200,000,” explains the pandit.

If kanwar are getting more beautiful and more expensive, they are also getting more dizzying: “It is sometimes difficult to persuade young people to build kanwar that are not too big. I understand their fervor, except that huge kanwars obstruct traffic and can cause accidents and incidents on the road. I ask pilgrims to be a little more responsible.”

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