Hindu religious Puja underway at the Gangotri temple, as Garhwali women line up with offerings, many with children in their laps. A conch or shankh is sounded to complete the atmosphere of Hindu religiosity. Just then, a woman goes into a trance (mata ayi) and starts jumping around with her arms in the air.
At the beginning of winter, the idol at Gangotri temple is moved down, in a procession, to a lower village temple, near Mukhba. The mountains are barely frequented at this time of year, as everyone has moved down to lower heights due to the impending winter. A rare sight on an important occasion when the idol is being packed and prepared for the big move!
Gangotri temple in early winter, as the statue is moved down to a lower station. See rare customs and traditions of the Garhwali people, including women going into trances and the idol on a chariot being lowered onto the faithful, to bless them.
The Gangotri temple was built by the Gorkha General Amar Singh Thapa, in the 18th century, is situated on the left bank of Bhagirathi. The temple is nested amidst the beautiful surroundings of deodars and pines.
It lies close to the the holy rock or the "Bhagirath Shila" where King Bhagirath had worshiped Lord Shiva. The Gangotri temple is dedicated to Goddess Ganga and located on the banks of River Bhagirathi.
The Pujaris and brahmins belongs to the village of Mukhwa. The water from Gangotri is carried to offer to Lord Shiva. It is believed that this water has nectar in it and will soothe the throat of Shiva who gulp the poison.
The picturesque pilgrimage in the hinterlands of the Himalayas is the most sacred spot where Ganga, the stream of life, touched earth for the first time.
According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Ganga took the form of a river to absolve the sins of King Bhagiratha's predecessors, following his severe penance of several centuries. Lord Shiva received into his matted locks to minimize the immense impact of her fall. She came to be called Bhagirathi at her legendary source.
King Sagar, after slaying the demons on earth decided to stage an Ashwamedha Yajna as a proclamation of his supremacy. The horse which was to be taken on an uninterrupted journey around the earth was to be accompanied by the King's 60,000 sons born to Queen Sumati and one son Asamanja born of the second queen Kesani. Indra, supreme ruler of the gods feared that he might be deprived of his celestial throne if the 'Yagya' succeeded and then took away the horse and tied it to the ashram of Kapil Muni, who was then in deep meditation.
The sons of the King Sagar searched for the horse and finally found it tied near the meditating Kapil. Sixty thousand angry sons of King Sagara stormed the ashram of sage Kapil. When he opened his eyes, the 60,000 sons had all perished, by the curse of sage Kapil. Bhagiratha, the grandson of King Sagar, is believed to have meditated to please the Goddess Ganga enough to cleanse the ashes of his ancestors, and liberate their souls, granting them salvation or Moksha.
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