President Pranab Mukherjee, who attended the Ganga aarti at Har-ki-Pauri here today evening, is the third President to offer prayers to the holy river.
Earlier first President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad and seventh President Dr Giani Zail Singh had taken part in the Ganga aarti in Haridwar. In 1959, Dr Rajendra Prasad had performed rituals at Har-ki-Pauri during the evening Ganga aarti while in 1991, Dr Giani Zail Singh had done so. In fact, Dr Rajendra Prasad had thrice visited Haridwar city.
Fourth President of India VV Giri came in 1968 to take part in the centenary celebration of the formation of the Haridwar Municipal Committee but he didn’t attend the Ganga aarti.
Dr Pranab Mukherjee,13th President of India, had earlier visited Haridwar on December 9, 2012, as the chief guest at the annual convocation of Dev Sanskriti University, educational wing of Gayatri Parivar, Shantikunj. But then he did not attend the Ganga aarti.
He was scheduled to take a dip in the Ganga during this visit and for which arrangements were made at the VIP ghat opposite to Har-ki-Pauri, but the programme was cancelled for unspecified reasons.
Notably, 11th President Dr Abdul Kalam Azad had visited Haridwar twice but due to a busy schedule he did not attend the Ganga aarti.
It is pertinent to mention that former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi had also attended the Ganga aarti. Mahatma Gandhi had taken part in the Ganga aarti and also taken a dip in the holy river at Har-ki-Pauri during Mahakumbh in 1916.
According to the Ganga Sabha, which manages the affairs of Har-ki-Pauri, many VVIPs, VIPs and important dignitaries had performed the Ganga aarti. The Sabha, which came into existence in 1916, maintains a record register of the important dignitaries who arrived at Har-ki-Pauri for a holy dip and the Ganga aarti.
Former legislator Ram Kumar Sharma, who had attended the Ganga aarti with first President Rajendra Prasad, said he sat on the stairs of Har-ki-Pauri, clicked photos with local public representatives, municipal chairperson, Ganga Sabha office-bearers and teerth purohits.
The Ganga Sabha office-bearers, teerth purohits, pandas, pundits and local people are quite elated with Pranab Mukherjee’s visit. Ganga Sabha office-bearers presented an appreciation citation and Ganga Jal in a silver pot to Mukherjee.
Ganga Sabha general secretary Ram Kumar Mishra said with today’s visit more pilgrims and tourists would come to see and experience the spiritual ambience, aura and blessings of the Ganga aarti.
Source: Sandeep Rawat, Tribune News Service