Indore, July 29 : Thousands of women pilgrims are carrying water to Lord Shiva during the ongoing monsoon festival in Madhya Pradesh.
Men traditionally observe the festival, but Indore came alive with more than 15000 women clad in saffron and orange robes danced to religious songs devoted to Lord Shiva.
During the festival, the devotees, called "Kawarias" in local parlance, collect holy water in small pots.
Carrying water pots on triangular and semi-circular wooden sticks decorated with colourful plastic flowers and photographs of Lord Shiva, the Kawarias traverse hundreds of kilometres of the pilgrimage.
Women chanted prayers and transformed the city into an ocean of saffron as they passed through the thoroughfares.
Men who were a part of the organising team of the unique procession said that this is their attempt to bring the women to the forefront.
Some said that they go by the rule that the 'hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world'. Hence they believe that women should take part in such religious events so that they can inculcate noble thoughts in the minds of their children also.
"The aim of organising all women-Kawar procession is that it is the women and the mothers who bind the family. It is the mothers who form the first school for the children. Hence, it is important for them to take part in these religious activities," said Pawan Pandey, a resident.
Kawarias or the pilgrims take a dip in the river Ganges, collect water from the river and take it back to their native places to offer it to Lord Shiva. The pilgrimage continues through the whole of Shravan month of Hindu calendar for 30 days. It is considered the longest fair of the world, drawing a lot of devotees from abroad. y Rajni Khaitan