On 6th November, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall participated in a formal ceremony of thanks on the banks of the River Ganges with Hindus. The Prince with his wife joined the Hindu worshippers in the holy Hindu city of Rishikesh on the banks of the sacred river during the Aarti ceremony. This ceremony is performed by worshipers during dusk, waving oil lamps burning ghee, which is a symbolic thank you ceremony to God for lighting the world.
The royal couple was welcomed by Swami Chidanand (Hindu Guru) and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati (His leading disciple). Charles said “It’s a particular joy to join you here on the banks of the Ganges this evening because it is, above all else, my first visit to the Ganges and so from that point of view it is a very special occasion for both myself and my wife.” He further added, “But we also wanted just to stress how deeply we felt for all those people who suffered so dreadfully as a result of the awful floods in June – our thoughts and prayers were so much with those families who have had to suffer the appalling catastrophe.” Northern Indian state of Uttarakhand was the first stop of Charles and Camilla’s tour.
The Hindu Guru is an active participant of the project to help in eradicating pollution in the Ganges. The project has gathered scientists, engineers and activists together to clean the riverbanks and water. As Charles praised the Hindu Guru for his ‘deep understanding of working in harmony with nature’, his heir added, “It seems to me the key to our future is to rediscover our connections with nature, for too long we seem to have ignored the services that nature provides us.”
The Prince also informed about the birth of his grandson Prince George (in July, 2013), who has given him a reason to intensify his efforts and help to preserve the planet. He said, “And now that I’ve just recently become a grandfather, I think it means even more when you have a grandchild to think of their future and all the futures of other grandchildren around the world, we owe them I think something a great deal better for their futures as well.”
On 6th November, Charles and Camilla arrived in India for their nine-day tour, which aims to strengthen ties between the UK and the Commonwealth nation. Sir James David Bevan (British High Commissioner to India) met the royal couple at the Jolly Grand Airport (Derhadun), prior moving ahead to the banks of the River Ganges for the traditional ceremony of Aarti during sunset.
The royal couple took a boat ride to go across the fast flowing pale green waters of the Ganges and reach the Gita Bhavan landing stage, close to the Parmarth Ganga Ghat. The officials from the Parmarth Niketan ashram greeted the couple and thereafter, a number of Rishikumars – young boys in colorful yellow robes, who study and live at the ashram – to the site of the daily ritual. The lamps were lit and worshipers began to sing the devotional songs.
The Hindu Guru then escorted the royal couple down to the banks of river Ganges to watch the ‘Havan’ ceremony, which features prayers offered to a sacred fire. The couple offered herbs, petals and seeds to the fire for world peace and environmental preservation. Thereafter, the water blessing ceremony was held, in which, water from the river was poured back to its source by the couple. There was two minutes silence observed to pay respect to the victims of the Uttarakhand flood. The royal couple was also presented with a sacred Rudraksh sapling, shawls and a small container of sacred water from the Ganges. Thereafter, they sat on the steps to hear the traditional songs.
Camilla said, “They almost definitely would have witnessed the fire ceremony, it’s one of the most traditional ceremonies in the Hindu tradition.” The royal couple will explore the length and breadth of India on their 9-day tour. Their aim is to celebrate the achievements of leading individuals, experience the diverse people and cultures and draw attention to the heir’s work to the throne’s own organizations. Camilla will also enjoy solo engagements catering to her interests of equestrianism, osteoporosis and literacy.
India, the land of diversities, is undoubtedly a land to explore the spirituality of sacred religions. To experience the religious richness, there are numerous religious tour packages available. These tour packages are specially designed to help the visitors get indulged in the spirituality flowing in the air. These religious tour packages could also be booked online through Indian Holiday.