The enthusiasm of bringing Kanwad (water pot) to Haridwar for fetching holy water of the Ganga among women is no less than men these days. Every year their number is increasing and till date many women Kanwadiyas have come to the holy city to fill Ganga water in their Kanwads. With Kanwad on their shoulder and ‘Bam Bam Bhole’ on their lips, these women are rubbing shoulders with the men pilgrims arriving here for the Kanwad Mela. On third day of Kanwad Mela on Thursday, many women Kanwadias with children were seen on the highway.
A few years ago, women used to accompany men Kanwadias in their pilgrimage but now they are undertaking the pilgrimage independently. A Kanwad pilgrim, Mallika Das said, “I have been bringing Kanwad for the past many years. My son also carries Kanwad along with me. Three years ago I performed ‘dandaouti’ (prostrating and rising while walking) and this time on account of fever I did not bring my son for pilgrimage. Lord Shiva will cure my husband who had paralysis attack, I have this ardent faith.”
Another woman from Muzaffarnagar, Sheela Devi said that her husband used to bring Kanwad but owing to his foot ailment, she has brought the Kanwad this year. Her earlier wish was fulfilled when her children were not surviving after birth. After undertaking Kanwad pilgrimage, she gave birth to healthy twins. Many like her have been taking Kanwads to get their wishes fulfilled. An estimated number of 25 lakh women had come to the holy city last year. Prakriti Rani, another woman Kanwadia from Bulandshahar, had first brought Kanwad to Haridwar three years ago. “I have been regularly bringing Kanwad for the past three years. When one wish is fulfilled, we come to pay gratitude and undertake another wish fulfilling pilgrimage,” said Prakriti.
Among these are some bold women Kanwadias as well who discourage male Kanwadias from consuming intoxicants while on pilgrimage.