In India, Lord Shiva devotees make a pilgrimage journey to Haridwar, Gangotri and Gomukh in Uttrakhand. This is an annual practice performed by the devotees in the Hindi month of Shravan (savan).
The Kanwar yatra is performed by thousands of people from all over the country. The devotees bring holy water of Ganges in pots from Haridwar, Gangotri or Gomukh. They serve this holy water to lord Shiva at Neelkanth.
Earlier, the saints or sacred sages used to make this journey. But, nowadays thousands of people including men, women and even children from all over the country tend to make this journey.
What is a Kanwar?
During the Kanwar Yatra, the devotees carry a cane on their shoulders. Two water pots are attached at both the ends of the cane. These canes are kanwar. Kanwariyas are the people who carry these kanwars on their shoulders.
Devotees use this kanwar to carry the holy water of Ganges from the holy destinations to the shivalings where they serve it to lord Shiva.
You can see large camps, stalls and gatherings of Kanwariyas during the Hindu month of savan in Haridwar and Gangotri. The month of Savan starts from July and runs till August.
The religious belief behind the Kanwar Yatra.
The religious epics and beliefs, associates the Kanwar Yatra with the churning of the ocean known as Samundra Manthan.
According to the epics, poison came out before the amrita. To prevent everyone from the burning of poison, lord Shiva decided to inhale the poison. But, after inhaling it, he started experiencing negative effects of the poison.
Ravana, was an earnest follower of Lord Shiva. When he saw lord Shiva suffering from the effect of that poison, he brought holy water of the Ganges in kanwar. Ravana then poured this holy water on lord Shiva hence, destroying the negative energy of the poison.
This is why during the month of savan, the devotees of lord Shiva make the Kanwar Yatra and serve shivalingams with holy water to please the lord of lords, Shiva.