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Monday, September 20, 2021

Kevadia to have Narmada aarti, priests selected by panel interview

The Kevadia Tourism Circuit, which has over 31 attractions along with the world's tallest Statue of Unity, is all set to host the grandeur of daily evening aartis dedicated to River Narmada on the 131-meter long and 47-meter wide ghats, constructed at a cost of Rs 14 crore in Gora village.

Written by Aditi Raja | Vadodara |
August 22, 2021 2:07:47 am
Construction of the Narmada Ghat over in Gora village is over. (Express Photo by Bhupendra Rana)

Every day, for the last few weeks in Kevadia in Narmada district, eight Hindu priests and a group of seven tribal musicians have been putting in hours of practice to perfect the synchronisation of the rhythmic chants of Sanskrit and Hindi verses of two aartis dedicated to River Narmada with the notes of the traditional musical instruments, combined with the clockwise flowy movements of the multi-layered brass lamps.

The ritualistic Narmada Aarti — on the lines of the magnificent Ganga aarti performed at the Dasashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi — will soon be an integral part of the daily evening events of the Kevadia Tourism Circuit in Narmada, where the construction of the Narmada River Ghats in Gora village, overlooking the towering Statue of Unity, is now complete.

The Kevadia Tourism Circuit, which has over 31 attractions along with the world’s tallest Statue of Unity, is all set to host the grandeur of daily evening aartis dedicated to River Narmada on the 131-meter long and 47-meter wide ghats, constructed at a cost of Rs 14 crore in Gora village.

When the ghats were built, a team of officials of the Statue of Unity Area Development and Tourism Governance Authority (SOUADTGA) and members of the revered Shoolpaneshwar temple trust visited Varanasi for a training session and understanding of how the Ganga aarti on the Dasashwamedh ghat is performed, to replicate it at Kevadia.

Nilesh Dubey, Assistant Commissioner, SOUADTGA, told The Indian Express, “The reason for choosing the Dashashwamedh Ghat is that it is the most popular among the Ganga aartis. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have performed aartis on the Dasashwamedh Ghat. On his visit to India, Modiji also took along Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe to the Dashashwamedh Ghat for the Ganga Aarti. This is because the movement of the aarti is uniform and most perfectly synchronised there. We want that same perfection.”

Sources say that the state government is awaiting a nod from the Prime Minister’s Office as PM Narendra Modi is expected to participate in the inaugural aarti which can be held only when the Sardar Sarovar Dam receives enough water to allow the gates to be opened and the Narmada river to flow downstream. The Narmada Dam is currently at a level of 115.11 metres, and its Full Reservoir Capacity is 138.68 metres. On August 28, last year, the dam had already touched 130.53 metres with the Riverbed Powerhouse (RBPH) resuming hydropower in a phased manner and thus, recording a total outflow of 40000 cusecs.

A senior official of the administration said, “At the moment, there is no water downstream as the monsoon has been delayed. The aarti cannot be held unless the water is released and the riverbed is full. There are several auspicious and festive days coming up for the inauguration and a visit from Modi for the inauguration is on cards too, especially since his birthday is coming up on September 17. State leaders are keen on organising the aarti on that day to pay respects to Modiji but it would also depend on the dam water level and flow downstream.”

Dubey told this paper, “The Shoolpaneshwar Temple Trust has interviewed and roped in eight priests from different parts of the country. We have provided them accommodation in Kevadia and they will reside here. Seven priests will perform the aarti every evening and one priest will be on standby, in case of emergencies. They have been practising the tuned hand motions with the large multi-layered lamps to the recitals of the aartis, every day at the temple complex for the last few weeks. We are ready to go and awaiting a signal from the government.”

The unique aspect of the addition of the aarti along the ghats, Dubey says will be the inclusion of the tribal musicians. “The eye-catching part of the aarti is that while the seven priests will perform the actual Karmakand (the movement of the lamps and offerings), a troupe of seven tribal musicians will do the recital with vocals and their instruments like the harmonium, tabla, keypad, banjo and so on. The ritual will last about 45 minutes, as long as the Dashashwamedh Ghat aarti, and will include two recitals — one will be the Jai Narmada Maiyya aarti in Hindi and the Narmadashtakam in Sanskrit. The tribal singers have been training to learn the verses impeccably,” Dubey says.

The aarti will be followed by a laser fountain show on the Narmada waters, which is themed on the Shiv Tandav Nritya of duration of 15 minutes. Devendra Trivedi, a priest of the Shoolpaneshwar temple trust, whose father headed the panel interviewing the young priests, roped in for the aarti, told The Indian Express, “The laser show along with the aarti will take the Narmada rituals one step ahead of the Ganga aarti. It is only here that one would be able to experience seeing Lord Shiva in front of their eyes. For the four days that we stayed in Varanasi, we witnessed the demonstrations and learned the aspects that make the Dashashwamedh ghat aarti so unique. We have already conducted a few demos for the sound system and the administration will soon decide when the rituals should begin.” The laser show will then kick off the daily light shows at the Statue of Unity, Glow Garden, and the ‘million lights’ installed at the Kevadia Tourism circuit.

Dubey says that the Narmada Ghat aarti is likely to attract several tourists, given that Narmada is considered the holiest of the three important rivers of Hindu mythology. Dubey says, “River Narmada, also known as Rewa is the daughter of Lord Shiva. It is believed to be the holiest of the three rivers because they say that a dip in the Ganga purifies a Hindu person just like a sip of the Yamuna purifies one, but a mere sight of the Narmada river purifies a person because it is the ‘manasputri’ of Lord Shiva. The ghats will certainly be among the popular tourist attractions.”

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