KAWAD/ KAWAD YATRA – AN IMPORTANT ASPECT OF INDIAN TRADITION
A] What is कावड ?
It is an annual pilgrimage of devotees of Lord Shiva, also known as Kawad yatra or Kawadiya to Hindu pilgrimage places which are concerned with Lord Shiva. Generally, it refers to a genre of religious performances where participants ritually carry water from a holy source in containers suspended on either side of a pole. The Kawad yatra used to be a small affair undertaken by a few saints and older devotees at the month of Shravan and is completed by the offerings to Lord Shiva.
There are some historical references of कावड in Hindu Mythology as follows :
1} It is said that Parshuram (One of the Avatars of Lord Vishnu) was the first person who did the Abhishek Pooja of ‘Pura-mahadev’ near Bagpat (U.P.) by the कावड bringing water of river Ganga from Gadamukteshwar in Uttar Pradesh.
2} Anand Ramayan says that Lord Ram had performed the Kawad pooja of Baidyanath Jyotirling by the water of river Ganga at the place which is today’s Sultanganj.
3} Also it is said that , Lord Shiva consumed the poison which was the output of samudra-manthan (churning of ocean) to protect the society. To neutralize the ill effects of poison, various devta performed the Kawad Abhishek of Lord Shiva by the water of various sacred rivers.
4} There are some references that mentions Kawad pooja done by Ravan in tretayug.
5} One more example of Shravan Kumar who did the Kawad Yatra with his parents. He travelled from Una (Himachal Pradesh) to Haridwar and brought water of river Ganga while returning back.
C] Sanskrit meaning of Kavad –
1} च्कस्य आवरः कावरः|
It means the greatest वरदान (boon). Here ‘क’ means जीव and आ means परमात्मा, so कावड symbolizes ‘जीव-ब्रह्म ऐक्य’ or ‘अद्वय आनन्द’(final aim of human being as written in shastras).
2} का (जल)+ आवर (व्यवस्था)
The month श्रावण comes in rainy season. It is that time when water level at all the water reservoirs increases. It gives the message to store the gained water at this period to fulfill the coming requirements of water up to the next rainy season.
3} क (समीप)+आवर (सम्यक् रुपेण धारणम्)
It is said that,”जल ही जीवन है|” (water is life).Life begins with the water, it survives on water and ends with the water (as after death रक्षाविसर्जन and अस्थिविसर्जन is done where the bones and ash of body is flowed in river in Hindu religion).So Kawad here clearly shows the importance of water in our life.
4} क (शिरे)+आवर(सम्यक् रुपेण धारणम्)
It means “I” am adopting Kawad on my shoulder which is adapted by Lord Shiva on his head.
- a) श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता says, “नहि ज्ञानेन सदृशं पवित्रमिह विद्यते|”- the most sacred thing in this universe is knowledge.
- b) Ganga is referred as the most sacred river according to Puranas which flows from the जटा (from the overhead) of lord Shiva.
Hence, both the above sentences clearly indicates that, Lord Shiva is the root source of Knowledge, also called as आदियोगी or आदिनाथ and bringing the Kawad on the shoulder indicates, adopting that knowledge within us (to become Kawadiyan).This is the reason why Kawad is brought over shoulder and not on the head.
D] Conclusion –
In this way, कावड or कावड यात्रा is one of the important rituals related with the Lord Shiva which is performed in the month of Shravan. It is not only religious but it also gives the social and environmental message. One Sanskrit Subhashit says, “अतिपरिचयात् अवज्ञा” means it is difficult to respect anything when it is easy available in ample amount. There are possibilities of forgetting the importance of this thing within us. कावड here not only warns us about the importance of water in our life but also guides us to use and store it with proper planning and management for the good future.
Worshipping of Adiguru-Shiva by the sacred water implies to use the adopted knowledge for the शिव, that means कल्याण of society and universe. Hence the कावड or कावड यात्रा is not only religious but conceptually very important aspect followed by our great ancestors in Indian tradition.