The roads are choc-a-block with kanwarias, the ultimate pilgrims of this ancient land. Many highways are closed to traffic for certain hours on account of the great rush of these bhaktas of Lord Shiva.
Their objective -- to anoint the holy shivalingas with the water of the Ganga, whose origins are traced to the locks of Shiva. Legend has is that when the Sursari --- the Ganga --- condescended to visit the mrityulok, consequent to the great penances undertaken by Bhagirath, there was no object which could contain her. Shiva agreed to hold her in his locks.
He did and was called Gangadhar for this effort. Later, he released the water from his locks. The Kanwarias enact that scene. It is faith which propels an estimated five million, over all kinds of terrain ,overcoming the fury of the elements. Shiva is Mahakaal (Time) and the Master of Time rolled in one.
Celebrated in all ancient civilisations, the concept of Time is a fabric running through the minds of all sentient beings. And who exemplifies it better than Shiva. The Kanwarias’ homage is thus to Time also, which is the dimension our lives run through.
The most famous of all the routes is the one leading to Vaidyanath Dham. For Shiva is the original Vaidya, who removes all the diseases and imperfections that mankind is afflicted with. He is Asutosh (easily pleased) and Gangajal and the humble bel leaves are his loved offerings.
So, if we find our way blocked for some time by the immense rush of the Kanwarias, 10 million all over India, let us not fret and fume.
Have patience, and consider this an opportunity that the great Lord Shiva has offered us to meditate on him and on his devotees who have rekindled faith by their sheer act of love and devotion.