Kanwar Yatra: devotion, sacrifice and endurance

On the annual Kanwar Yatra pilgrimages, the kanwarias (pilgrims) fast and walk for hundreds of miles, often in bare feet, to sacred rivers to collect holy water in containers attached to long poles. The kanwarias balance these poles on their shoulders as they make the return journey to their native places.

The pilgrimage is a long and arduous journey of devotion, sacrifice and endurance. It comes as no surprise that many kanwarias arrive at our camps in need of medical attention. The pilgrims’ feet are often covered with blisters and wounds, their shoes (if worn) are in tatters, and their clothes are drenched from the monsoon rain. Each camp has a team of doctors and para medical staff to provide immediate medical relief. Vishav Manav Ruhani Kendra volunteers are also at hand to offer assistance to the pilgrims.

Many pilgrims are tired and weary when they stop at the kanwar camps. Vishav Manav Ruhani Kendra volunteers serve the kanwarias fasting foods such as fresh fruit juices, milk, fruits, biscuits, and petha which is a translucent soft candy made from white pumpkin. Complete lunch and dinner meals are available as well. The camp volunteers also show care by offering leg massages to the pilgrims while they take some rest before continuing their pilgrimage.

The annual Kanwar Yatra pilgrimage is named after the kanwar which is the colorfully decorated pole with containers suspended on either side to collect the holy water. There are different types of kanwars. One of these is the Khadi kanwar that must be held continuously and cannot be placed on the ground or hung. Therefore, Vishav Manav Ruhani Kendra volunteers help by standing and holding the Khadi kanwars while the kanwarias rest at our camps.

Each year, thousands of kanwarias visit these kanwar camps organized by Vishav Manav Ruhani Kendra. The kanwarias are grateful for the care and attention offered at these camps, and the camp volunteers are deeply moved by the pilgrims’ dedication, determination, and devotion.