The importance of Babadham is most visible in the month of Shravan during which millions of devotees all across India make a pilgrimage to Baba Baidyanath temple. The first stop in the journey to Babadham is Sultanganj which is located 105 km away from the final destination. The reason for the stop is that the river Ganga flows through this town. It is here that the devotees collect water in their kanwars before continuing their journey to Babadham.
With devotion in their heart and Bol Bam on their lips the devotees walk 109 km to Baba Baidyanath temple at Babadham carrying water filled kanwars on their shoulders. Upon reaching the holy place, they bathe in the Shivganga to purify themselves of sins. They then proceed in to the Baba Baidyanath temple and offer holy water from the Ganga River to the Jyotirlinga. This long and holy journey continues for the whole month of Shravan i.e. July to August. During this period close to 60 lakh saffron clad pilgrims visit Babadham. This devotional event is considered the longest religious fair in the world. Babadham remains religiously active throughout the year as there is Shivaratri in March, Basant Panchami in January, Bhadra Purnima in September. So there is constant bustle of devotees all year round.
Travelling to Babadham is a strenuous and tasking. To alleviate exhaustion devotees should carry essential items like:
- A kanwar
- Two water-pots
- A match box and a packet of Agarbatti
- A bag
- A carpet and two sheets
- A piece of plastic cloth
- Two pairs of saffron-coloured dresses
- A torch and a few candles
- A towel
- Required money
To ensure that the holy journey bears fruits, one must follow certain rules and norms:
- To maintain celibacy
- To remember Lord Shiva by keeping mind, heart and speech pure
- To speak the truth
- To be inspired by charity and service
- To take bath before taking the kanwar
- To recite Bol-Bam
- Not to use oil and soap
- Not to wear shoes
- Not to take any article made of leather
- To avoid dogs
Rituals to be followed in Shravan Month:
- Offer milk to lord Shiva in Shravan Month
- Wear Rudraksha and use it for japas
- Offer Bhibhuti to lord Shiva
- Offer panchamrit (a mixture of milk, curd, butter or ghee, honey and jaggery) and bael leaves to Shiva linga.
- Conduct aarti of lord Shiva while chanting Shiva Chalisa
- Chant the Mahamritunjay mantra
- Fast on all Shravan Somvars
If you have decided to go to Babadham to get blessed by Lord Shiva, do take care of yourself and follow the guide. It will help you along the way.