ALLAHABAD, INDIA, July 16, 2014 (Times of India): Driven by devotion and desire to offer prayers to Lord Shiva at Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, a large number of women Kanwariyas (pilgrims) are joining hands with their male counterparts in walking the extra mile.
Dressed in saffron attire, the number of women carrying the decorated pot has increased manifold at Dashashwamedh Ghat and Sangam. Here the Kanwariyas collect water from Ganga before heading to Varanasi. Most of these women kanwariyas hail from rural area and are in the age group of 25-40 years. After collecting water from Ganga, these women walk barefoot to offer jalabhishek to Lord Shiva. The start of Shrawan month has already filled Sangam city's streets with saffron-clad Kanwariyas carrying decorated kanwars structure on their shoulders.
"It's a matter of devotion. Women are making a mark in all fields like education, engineering and medical. They are also strong enough to follow the custom and practice (taking kanwar on their shoulders) as men do" said Savita, a woman kanwariya from Soraon. She added "The number of women kanwariyas has increased in the last two to three years. Earlier, they preferred offering puja to the Deity at local temples."