Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall tonight took part in a solemn ceremony of thanks with Hindus on the banks of the River Ganga. In the holy Hindu city of Rishikesh, the prince led his wife by the hand to the banks of the sacred river where they joined Hindu worshippers conducting the Aarti ceremony.
It is performed by devotees every sunset who wave oil lamps burning ghee – a symbolic thank you to God for lighting the world.
In the holy city of Rishikesh, the prince led his wife by the hand to the banks of the sacred river where they joined Hindu worshippers conducting the Aarti ceremony
The couple were welcomed by the Hindu guru Swami Chidanand and his leading disciple Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, both dressed in orange robes, who draped a garland of marigold blooms around their necks and strings of beads.
With the foothills of the Himalayans looming in the distance, Charles told gathered trainee priests and their leaders: ‘It’s a particular joy to join you here on the banks of the Ganges this evening because it is, above all else, my first visit to the Ganges and so from that point of view it is a very special occasion for both myself and my wife.
Charles asks about the ritual that he has just performed: The water blessing ceremony involved pouring water taken from the Ganges back to its source
‘But we also wanted just to stress how deeply we felt for all those people who suffered so dreadfully as a result of the awful floods in June – our thoughts and prayers were so much with those families who have had to suffer the appalling catastrophe.’
The devastating floods are estimated to have killed 5,500 people with many deaths in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, the first stop on Charles and Camilla’s tour, and forced tens of thousands to be evacuated during the summer.
Isn’t this lovely, dear? Devotees draped a garland of marigold blooms around the4 royal couple’s necks and adorned them with strings of beads
The guru has been involved in a project to help eradicate pollution in the Ganges, gathering together scientists, engineers and activists to help clean the waters and riverbanks.
Charles went on to praise the Swami for his ‘deep understanding of working in harmony with nature’.
The heir to the throne added: ‘It seems to me the key to our future is to rediscover our connections with nature, for too long we seem to have ignored the services that nature provides us.’The prince told how the birth of his grandson Prince George, in July, had given him a reason to redouble his efforts on working to help preserve the planet.
‘And now that I’ve just recently become a grandfather, I think it means even more when you have a grandchild to think of their future and all the futures of other grandchildren around the world, we owe them I think something a great deal better for their futures as well.’
The royal couple was given small Aarti lamps and joined other participants in circling them clockwise in a ritual designed to give thanks for the light of the day
Charles and Camilla arrived in India today at the start of a nine-day tour designed to strengthen ties between the Commonwealth nation and the UK.
The royal couple were met at Jolly Grand airport in Derhadun by the British High Commissioner to India, Sir James David Bevan, before heading to the banks of the River Ganges where they took off their shoes for the traditional Aarti sunset ceremony.
The Duchess of Cornwall wore a turquoise tunic and she and her husband each wore poppies for the Hindu ceremony in the holy city of Rishikesh, which marked the start of their third, and most extensive, tour of India as a married couple.
The couple travelled by boat across the fast flowing pale green waters of the Ganges to the Gita Bhavan landing stage near the Parmarth Ganga Ghat, where they were greeted by officials from the nearby Parmarth Niketan ashram.
They were then led by a number of Rishikumars – young boys in colourful yellow robes who live and study at the ashram – to where they could remove their shoes in private before the daily ritual, in which lamps are lit and devotional songs sung, began.
The prince takes the mic: He told how the birth of his grandson Prince George had given him a reason to redouble his efforts on working to help preserve the planet
The Duchess of Cornwall wore a turquoise tunic and white flowing trousers while her husband wore a grey suit for the first day of their Indian tour