Varanasi comes to life
Deepawali is one of the most auspicious festivals of the year. Diwali in India, particularly in Northern India, is celebrated with lights, food, and festivities. New clothes and new food abound, everyone spends their time with their loved ones. The festivities encapsulate the joy and warmth. Varanasi is one of the most auspicious places in the country, known for its Ganga Ghat situated by the banks of the river Ganga.
The River of Lights
The city is known for being situated on the banks of the river Ganga, an auspicious river for its mythology. During the time of Deepawali, not to be confused with Diwali, the river gets covered with floating lights. The city is reflected on the water by the light of the full moon, getting further accentuated by the terracotta hand-painted lanterns floating in the water.
The water of Ganges reflects the light of the full moon while boats move to leave a trail of diyas behind. It is deeply surreal and an experience everyone should have once in their life if they ever get a chance to celebrate Diwali in India.
The Grandeur of The Ganga
The majestic Ganga and the ghats surrounding it, all the way from Ravidas to Raj Ghat, and their stairs are adorned with diyas and appear glittering and shining, enchanting the tourists with their splendor.
The preparation for the celebration begins a week prior. Unlike Diwali in India which is for five days, Dev Deepawali is fifteen days after Diwali, adorning the city with diyas and rangoli.
Light of Life
The city’s landscape is tight and wound allowing the tourists to roam on foot or on a moped bike. Throughout the festival, the city of Varanasi hosts tourists and pilgrims who perform rituals at Ghats on Kartik Poornima. It’s a great opportunity for anyone who wishes to visit the city in its majestic glory and have a glimpse of India’s diverse culture.
It makes for the best season to visit Varanasi, the weather is hospitable, with the morning being cold and the days sunny. The mist of the mornings marks the divinity and presence of a higher being whilst performing holy rituals.
Tourists from all over the city visit Varanasi for the week of Dev Deepawali, marking their tour by boating in the Ganga ghat, seeking spiritual peace, meditating on the banks of the Holy River Ganga, and paying several visits to the temples.
The ceremony of Dev Deepawali starts with the offering of lit earthen lamps or diyas, known as deep daan, by 21 brahmins and 41 young girls with the chanting of Vedic mantras in the background. Several devotees take dips in the river Ganges on this auspicious day, known as Kartik Snan. This ritual is believed to rid a person of their sins. Many households also organise Akhand Ramayan (chanting of the holy scriptures, Ramayana) followed by a Bhoj where food is offered to people.
The ghats are also known for praying for the martyrs by offering an aarti to the Holy River Ganga. The Ganga Seva Nidhi organises the aarti where wreaths are placed at Amar Jawan Jyoti at the Dashashwamedh Ghat and at the adjoining Rajendra Prasad Ghat by the police officials.
The Culmination of Dev and Deepawali at Varanasi
The Ganga Aarti of Benaras is famous and known for its live coverage and portrayal in cinema. The Ganga Aarti of Varanasi covers all ghats and is one of the most elaborate Ganga Aarti that is performed in the whole year. With exquisite earthen lamps across the river, tourists can view the aarti from across all the ghats.
The Ganga Mahotsav goes on for five days. The Mahotsav is celebrated as a token of thankfulness of the people towards the ever-flowing river. With musical and dance performances held at the banks of the river, the tourists can experience the best of the country’s talent during the festival of light, warmth, and joy.
The festival is the best way to eat across the city, with various offerings, from the Bhog to Banarasi Chaat, Bati Chokha, Mughlai cuisines, replicating the city’s vast and culturally rich heritage. One of the best delicacies of the season is a local dessert called Malaiyo; a local winter delicacy made from raw milk and dew drops. In the winter, one can find it everywhere in Varanasi but for the authentic one Chowk area is the best place to taste it. It is only available until 11 am.
Birds of the city
Birds from all over Serbia fly to Varanasi in the winter. Birds such as northern pintail, reddish shelduck, Cormorant, bar-headed geese, and golden pheasant among others can be spotted along the banks of the Ghats. Tourists visit Varanasi when they celebrate Diwali in India to capture the beauty of these birds while they glide over the Ganges, the reflections of which make the city come alive.
As an international student in India, one can experience the diversity and vibrancy of the festival of lights. Celebrating Diwali in India is one of the highlights of student life in the country. Indians are welcoming and inclusive to foreign nationals and international students do not usually have trouble integrating with the cultural traditions and festivities in India. Vishwakarma University has a grand Diwali celebration every year and it also makes sure that international student communities can experience the best of Indian culture. To know more about the diverse programmes offered by Vishwakarma University for international students, visit https://www.vupune.ac.in/international-community