Aarti Ceremony, Rishikesh
The most well known Ganga Aarti in Rishikesh is held on the banks of the river at Parmarth Niketan ashram. It's a much more intimate and relaxed affair than the aartis at Haridwar and Varanasi, and is devoid of the theatrics as well. Many people prefer it for these reasons. They find it much more spiritual.
Instead of being performed by pandits, the Ganga Aarti at Parmarth Niketan is organized and performed by ashram residents, particularly the children who are studying the Vedas there. The ceremony commences with the singing of bhajans (devotional songs), prayers, and a hawan (a purifying and sacred ritual that takes place around a fire, with the offerings made to Agni, the fire god). The lamps are lit and the aarti occurs as the final part of the ceremony. The children sing along with the spiritual head of the ashram, in sweet, haunting voices. A huge statue of Lord Shiva overlooks the proceedings.
Crowds on the banks of the Ganges as the ceremony reaches its climax