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Priests perform Ganges ‘aarti’ prior to lunar eclipse in northern India

STORY: Priests in India’s northern Varanasi city on Monday (August 07) performed the famous ‘aarti’ (a Hindu religious ritual of worship) on the banks of Ganges in daylight for the first time in 26 years.

Owing to the lunar eclipse on Monday, the priests decided to change the timing of the ceremony, which is held daily in the holy city in the late evening.

Hundreds of devotees gathered at the bank of the holy Ganges River to witness the ceremony while temples remained closed during the ‘sutak’ period, a 12-hour long period prior to the eclipse, as the duration is considered inauspicious by the Hindus.

A partial lunar eclipse will take place on Monday night and will be visible across India.

According to Hindu tradition, an eclipse occurs because a demon named Rahu occasionally gobbles up the sun or the moon before letting them off after a certain period.

This period is considered very ominous by devout Hindus. Prayers are offered by devotees during this period and once the eclipse is over, they bathe or take a holy dip in sacred rivers, like the Ganges.

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