One of the most mesmerizing rituals at Pashupatinath Temple is the Pashupati Bagmati Aarati. Bagmati is the holy river that flows through the temple. The river divides the temple into two sides, with the main Pashupatinath Temple being on one side and the location of this Aarati on the other.
Bagmati has great importance in Hindu religion. It is believed that taking a holy bath on this river washes away sins. Aarati is a ritual of worship in which light from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) is offered to God. Pashupati Bagmati Aarati follows three priests conducting the custom with oil lamps, lanterns and other religious elements by chanting sacred mantra.
The priests perform the Aarati by taking oil lamps and moving them in circular motion and dedicating their act to the Divine. Bhajan (songs with religious theme) are sung by devotees during the Aarati, creating blissful surrounding. The Aarati starts at 6 pm every evening. This is a ritual that allows everyone to be a part of it and creates an environment of union of God and the devotees.
The Bagmati Aarati started at Pashupati in the year 200. However, it was established as a regular tradition since the year 2006. Since then, this Aarati has been a regular practice captivating thousands of people every year.
In Hindu religion, Aarati has been given most value. A Bhajan is considered more valuable than a song; prayer is considered more sacred than Bhajan; and finally Aarati is considered most important of them all. Aarati is considered as the highest form of prayer.
The Bagmati Aarati at Pashupatinath offers reverence to the holy river Bagmati and the Pashupatinath Temple. A dance form called “Tandav” is performed by followers at the Aarati. Tandav is a divine dance performed by Load Shiva. Hence, followers dance Tandav during the Aarati paying respect to Lord Shiva.
The Bagmati Aarati is a major attraction and Pashupati is being widely recognized for it. Many people come to be a part of the Aarati during holidays, on Mondays and during festivals. Monday is considered the right day to worship Lord Shiva ensuring a large number of followers that day. Also, Aarati is a major attraction during Maha Shivaratri and Haritalika Teej festivals.
Hindu religion believes in the presence of God in every living soul. It places importance on good for everyone rather than good for just one. This is portrayed during the Aarati where prayers are sung for the betterment of whole of humanity and coming together as one is the main aim. The end of the Aarati is marked by hailing for the wellness of every living soul and thanking God for the kindness bestowed by him.