Kanwar Yatra or Kawad Yatra (कांवड़ यात्रा) is an auspicious pilgrimage observed by the devotees of Lord Shiva annually. This yatra is also called Jal Yatra as in this practice the bearer known as ‘Kanwariyas’ (कांवड़ियों) or Kanvadias go the Hindu pilgrimage places like Sultanganj in Bihar, Gangotri and Gaumukh in Uttarakhand and Haridwar to fetch water from the Holy Ganges and then offer the ‘Ganga Jal’ to Shiva temples in their hometowns.

The 2019 Kanwar yatra begins on July 17, Wednesday. Jal abhishekam is on Sawan shivaratri which falls on July 30 and jal time is between 12:06 AM to 12:43 AM.

Image Source: IANS

Kanwariyas in Haridwar as part of Kanwar yatra

When is Kanvar Yatra

Kanvar Yatra takes place during the Hindu month of Shravan that corresponds to the month of July to August in the English calendar. It starts on Pradipada tithi (the first day) of Shravan month as per Purnimanta calendar.

However the Kanwar Yatra from Sultanganj to Devghar in the state of Bihar and Jharkhand respectively, is undertaken by the kanwariyas all year round.

Kanwar Yatra 2019 was on July 17 Wednesday

The devotees undertake this 100 km journey barefooted with utmost devotion and enthusiasm.

Kanwar Yatra was first observed in the month of ‘Bhado’ as per the Hindu calendar, however after the start of the mela (fair) in the month of ‘Shravan’ in the year 1960, the yatra started from this month till the period of Dussera. Kanwar Yatra is mainly observed during this time but during significant Hindu occasions like ‘Maha Shivratri’ and ‘Basant Panchami’ the number of Kanvarias increases manifold. According to the statistics, nearly 2 crores of devotees perform this holy journey every year. This fair known as ‘Shravan Mela’ is one amongst the biggest religious congregations of North India. The Kanwar Yatra is not just limited to men; women also participate in this in large numbers.

On trayodashi tithi of Shravan month, the Ganga jal brought back by Kanwariyas from the holy places is offered to bathe the Shivalingam in their home town.

Image Source: IANS

Kanwarias carry pots filled with holy water to be offered to Lord Shiva

The Rituals of Kanwar Yatra

During the Kanvar Yatra, the devotees carry the ‘Kanvar’ on both their shoulders. ‘Kanvar’ is a small pole made from bamboo to which two colored earthen pots are tied on the opposite ends. During this pilgrimage journey, the Kanvarias fill the earthen pots with holy water for offering in Lord Shiva’s temple by balancing the Kanvars on their shoulders.

The Kanwar Yatra is a month long ritual in which the Kanvarias wear saffron colored clothes and walk barefooted to collect the holy water from the chosen pilgrimage destinations. The devotees then return to their hometown and perform the ‘abhishekam’ (holy anointment) of the Shivling at the local temple. It is considered to be an act of thanksgiving for all the fortunate things in their life. The only thing to take care is that the earthen pots should not touch the ground at any point of the journey. There are numerous makeshift stands constructed across the journey, using which the Kanvarias can take some rest for a while.

Image Source: IANS

Ganga jal is offered for abhishekam on the day of Shravan Sivaratri

The Kanvarias walk in groups during this holy yatra. While most of them travel the distance on foot, some devotees even use bicycle, scooters, motor cycles, jeeps or mini tucks to cover this journey. All through the journey these Lord Shiva devotees chant ‘Bol Bam’ and religious bhajans in the praise of Lord Shiva.

Serving the Kanvarias is also considered to be an auspicious act. Several NGOs in different segments of the journey offer free service like offering food, water, tea or medical help. While most of these organisations are functional during the month of Shravan, there are few NGOs like Bol Bum Sewa Samiti that work all year round.

Important Timings On Kanwar Yatra

SunriseJuly 17, 2019 5:54 AM
SunsetJuly 17, 2019 5:54 AM
Pratipada Tithi BeginsJuly 17, 2019 3:08 AM
Pratipada Tithi EndsJuly 18, 2019 4:51 AM
Place : Ujjain [ India ]   See More
Image Source: IANS

A group of kanwariyas arrived on the banks of Ganga to take holy water on the eve of the Maha Shivaratri

Significance of Kanwar Yatra:

The ritual of Kanwar Yatra has a significance of its own. By practicing this form of worship, the Kanvars take a spiritual break and try to relax their mind by chanting the religious hymens. It is taken as a form of diversion to get away from the stressful and negative situations and through the journey get inspirational ideas. It is a known fact that a mind can get creative only when it is relaxed. Collecting the holy water from River Ganga signifies collecting the creative and positive ideas that is carried back to the work place for finishing the incomplete tasks. It is also believed that by completing the Kanwar Yatra, the Kanvarias receive divine blessings from Lord Shiva and all their wishes will come true.

Kanwar Yatra festival dates between 2016 & 2026

YearDate
2016Wednesday, 20th of July
2017Monday, 10th of July
2018Saturday, 28th of July
2019Wednesday, 17th of July
2020Monday, 6th of July
2021Saturday, 24th of July
2022Thursday, 14th of July
2023Tuesday, 4th of July
2024Monday, 22nd of July
2025Friday, 11th of July
2026Thursday, 30th of July

Other Related Festivals