India is a land of many festivals, and the people here do justice to each one of them. There is a festival for just about every season, every religion, every religious place, every myth and every legend. While some are exclusive to certain communities, each one of them is celebrated with much pomp and show.
Ganga Mahotsav and Dev Deepawali: The Festival of Lights
The Ganga Mahotsav and Dev Deepawali are two festivals that are much awaited by the locals of Benares. These festivals are celebrated with fervour and exuberance every year. The ghats of the mighty Ganges, that is revered as holy, are lit up with several hundred earthen lamps. Oil lamps are set afloat on the river at night, giving it a mesmerising look. These lamps are also lighted and placed in front of all houses in Benares and fire crackers are burst to mark this festival. Let us not forget what Benares is most famous for! The aroma of exotic recipes and mouthwatering dishes engulf the tiny streets of this holy city.
This is a 5-day long festival that begins on Prabodhani Ekadshi (11 days after Diwali) and spans till the end of Karthik Poornima. If you are planning a holiday this November, book your tickets to Benares, and you will not be disappointed. Locals believe that the holy Ganges has fed, nurtured and protected the city of Benares, and every year, they honour the river during this 5 day festival.
Diwali delights with lights
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The Diwali of Gods, like the name suggests coincides with the last day of Ganga Mahotsav. It is celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu calendar. It is believed that demon Tripurasur, who wrecked havoc on earth was killed by the Gods on this day. The day commences with an elaborate prayer to Lord Ganesha, followed by Vedic mantras recited by 21 brahmins and 41 girls. This is then followed by a Maha Aarti that is held at the Dashashwamedh Ghat that is known to abolish sins of those seeking salvation. Many locals organise Akhand Ramayan that is followed by an elaborate Bhoj (food offered to people).
This a spectacular event that you should not miss if you are visiting Varnasi around this time of the year, when the city is a feast to the eyes, and looks no less than an abode of the Gods. You can feel spiritual vibes by just being a part of these festivities. You can also take a dip in the holy waters, on this auspicious day. People, young and old flock the banks of Ganges on this day for a dip in the waters of Ganga.
The evening aarti at the ghat!
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Tourists from the length and breadth of the country throng the lanes of this religious place that is touted as the religious capital of India. Various forms of dance and music recitals add to the joy and colour of this festival. Renowned maestros like Anuradha Paudwal and Pandit Chhanulal Mishra, grace the stage and add life to this already glorious festival. You can also hop onto a boat to admire the beauty of these ghats!
This is the time of the year when you can savour all the delicacies of Benares at one place. The food fair at Benares is something you will never forget! A large spread of mouth-watering Banarasi chaats, murrabas, jalebis, mughal cuisine, dal moth, lassis, besan pakoras, rabris, sherbets, and the famous BatiChoka and the Benarasi Paan, will leave you asking for more.
A visit to Benares during Ganga Mahotsav and Dev Deepawali, is all you need to give relief to an exhausted body and mind. Last minute reservation to Benares during this festival, can get tricky. Plan ahead and though the place will be teeming with people, you will love every bit of the life changing experience.