Haridwar, a predominantly Hindu city and a foremost pilgrim destination of the country is held in much high esteem by every Hindu due to its grand mythological background and its unparalleled religious significance. Believed to be the mythical habitat of Goddess Parvati’s Father Daksha, as well as the place where River Ganga descended from the locks of Lord Shiva at the plea of Bhagiratha and also the grounds purified by the drop of Amrit fallen at the time of Samudra Manthan, Haridwar is one of the seven Mokshapuris of India that leads you to the ultimate salvation. The gateway to one of the Dhams of the most auspicious Char Dham Yatra of India, Badrinath and also an entrance to Kedarnath, Haridwar is a one of the most sought after Hindu Tirtha Kshetras of India. Both pilgrims as well as tourists flock this city all round the year.
Apart from taking the Darshana of various temples of this sacrosanct city, the central event that can be witnessed here is bathing in the hallowed waters of River Ganga. It is believed that if you take a dip into the sacred Ganges at Haridwar, all your sins are instantly washed away. If the mortal remains of a human being are immersed in the Ganga River here, that person attains Moksha. The most venerated Bathing places of Haridwar include Gangadwara, Nila Parvata, Kankhal, Bilwa Theertha and Kusavarta. Hari-ki–Pairi is the most sanctified Ghat of Haridwar where the footprints of Lord Vishnu are present in a stone wall. Another noteworthy aspect of Haridwar Culture is the spectacular Ganga Aarti. Performed at 7:00 pm every evening, this event creates a magnificent and mesmerizing spectacle. The Aarti starts at all the temples and all the ghats of Haridwar at the same time and the thousands of lamps floating in the Ganga water along with beautiful flower garlands render a stunning and eye catching vista.
The major festivals celebrated at this ‘Door to the Land of God’ include the Kumbh Mela, Ardh Mela, Kanwar Mela, Somwati Amavasya, Kartik Purnima, Kavad mela and Ganga Dussehra, etc.
Kumbh Mela celebrated once in every 12 years at Haridwar is the humanity's largest festival that draws millions of devotees to this blessed land. The Kumbh Mela of the year 2003 has built a record of 70 million pilgrims congregating here. The major event at the time of Kumbh Mela is the ritualistic bathing at the various Ganga Ghats in order to cleanse the sins and achieve Moksha.
Ardh Mela or Ardh Kumbh Mela is held in Haridwar every six years. Equally revered as the Maha Kumbh, the Ardh Mela also beckons millions of pilgrims to this sacred abode of Gods and Goddesses.
Kanwar Mela is the largest annual festival of Haridwar which is celebrated in the month of July (Shravan) every year. Organized in the honor of Lord Shiva, this festival involves the Abhisheka ritual which is performed by the holy waters of Ganges in the Shiva Temples. Millions of pilgrims alight at Haridwar on foot and participate in this festival of thanks giving.
Somwati Amavasya also celebrated in the month of July on the no moon day is as grand as the Kanwar Mela. It is believed to be very auspicious to take a dip into Ganga River at Haridwar on the day of Somwati Amavasya.
Kartik Purnima festival is celebrated in the honor of Lord Vishnu 15 days after the Diwali Festival on the full moon day of the month of Kartik. Devotees make it a point to bath at the Ghats of Haridwar on the day of Kartik Purnima.
Ganga Dussehra is the day when the holy river Ganga descended on the earth. Devotees offer Puja to the river Ganga and convey their gratitude towards the river Goddess for providing for the humanity. This festival is celebrated in the month of June and pilgrims bath in the Ganges as a sign of devotion.
Apart from these Hindu festivals commemorating the River Ganga, other festivals, especially Guru Nanak Jayanti and Baisakhi are also celebrated with equal pomp and zest at Haridwar. It is said that Guru Nanak Sahib had paid visit to this city on the day of Baisakhi in 1504 AD and bathed at 'Kushwan Ghat' when he also performed the famous miracle of 'watering the crops'. Thus we can conclude that the culture of Haridwar mainly reveals the two facets, its religious significance and its cosmopolitan demeanor.