Varanasi—the city of festivals

There is possibly not a single month, when Varanasi is not preparing or in the midst of a festival. The city celebrates its festivals with such zealous fervour, that it is difficult not to get drawn into the carnivalesque atmosphere. Pick any month and you will find somefestival to plan your trip around. Some of the best picks for the city are below. Apart from these major festivals people also visit Varanasi for other festivals including Chhat Puja, Buddh Purnima, Navratris, Ganesh Chaturthi, Kumbh Mela, Ganga Dussehera, Durga Puja and many more. There is never a dull moment in the city.

Holi
The dusty streets of Varanasi are doused in colour and bhaang during the Hindu festival of Holi. Brave the crowds in the streets and join in the festivities, though we suggest you may be better off watching the fun from a rooftop and playing Holi with people you know. Many youngsters on the road urge travellers to join in for an authentic experience of Holi, but untoward incidents are not uncommon. Though caution during the festival is recommended, one cannot but help love the carefree vibe and the zealous celebrations in the city of Shiva.

Dev Deepavali
If you want to celebrate Deepavali with the Gods, Varanasi is where you should be headed. The fifteenth day of Diwali is when, devotees believe, that the Gods descend from the heavens to celebrate the festival on the ghats. The ghats are washed, cleaned and the hundreds of people come and make Rangolis before lighting thousands of clay lamps (diyas) on the steps—visually, the scene is absolutely spectacular. The Ganga Mahotsav precedes the festival, and the ghats come alive as a platform to present Varanasi’s performing arts and crafts for four days. Kushti competitions, traditional games, different cuisines, music and dance performances are held for the duration of the festival which ends with Dev Deepavali. The festival takes place in October or November.

Maha Shivratri
Join in the marriage procession (baraat) of none other than Lord Shiva on this day. The city is thrown into a frenzy as hundreds of small troupes carry a bedecked Shiva idols in processions to the Shiva temples. According to mythology, this day celebrates Shiva’s marriage to Goddess Parvati. In true Varanasi style, the day cannot be bereft from bhaang and sweets, which are offered on roadsides to anyone passing by. The processions usually start in the evenings and the celebrations go on until the wee hours of the morning. An entry into the Kashi Vishwanath temple on this day is almost impossible, but give it a shot anyway.

Ram Lila
One of the most sacred festivals celebrated in the city, the Ramlila of Varanasi is an overwhelming experience. The month long festival which basically involves storytelling sessions and enactments from the epic Ramayana, takes place in the satellite town of Ramnagar. A large field, a school stage, a lake and the fort become part of the moving stages. Children, who play the part of the lead roles in the story move from one stage to another with the whole town in tow. The festival is almost holy for the locals here and these children are treated like the Gods for the entire month. If heading towards the holy city of Kashi, join the locals for a truly unique experience.

Dhrupad Mela
Five days of musical extravaganza unfolds on the Tulsi Ghat in Varanasi every year. Dhrupad is one of the oldest type of Hindustani classical music, which was made popular by Swami Haridas, the Guru of Tansen. The festival takes place to commemorate his contribution to music, bringing many famous musicians of India on one platform. The festival has become a major tourist attraction over the years—book your stay well in advance.

 

"People should not worry as much about what they do but rather about what they are.  If they and their ways are good, then their deeds are radiant. If you are righteous, then what you do will also be righteous.  We should not think that holiness is based on what we do but rather on what we are, for it is not our works which sanctify us but we who sanctify our works." (Meister Eckhart - German Writer and Theologian, 1260-1328) This picture was shot along the Ganges in Varanasi (Benaras), at the junction of Manikarnika Ghat and Scindia Ghat, during the celebrations of Dev Diwali. Everywhere candles are lit as a mark of welcome to God who is believed to descend on earth on that special day. The meaning of this festival is to eradicate our inner demons while meeting the Lord. After leaving king Bali, the Lord rejoined the devas on this day, the devas celebrated His arrival in jubilation and thus Dev Diwali came into being. Though the devas celebrated the Lord's return, we mortals celebrate Dev Diwali by eradicating our inner demons - the base instincts of ego, anger, greed, lust, ... and the resulting manifestation of divinity within.
“People should not worry as much about what they do but rather about what they are.
If they and their ways are good, then their deeds are radiant.
If you are righteous, then what you do will also be righteous.
We should not think that holiness is based on what we do but rather on what we are, for it is not our works which sanctify us but we who sanctify our works.”
(Meister Eckhart – German Writer and Theologian, 1260-1328)
This picture was shot along the Ganges in Varanasi (Benaras), at the junction of Manikarnika Ghat and Scindia Ghat, during the celebrations of Dev Diwali.
Everywhere candles are lit as a mark of welcome to God who is believed to descend on earth on that special day.
The meaning of this festival is to eradicate our inner demons while meeting the Lord.
After leaving king Bali, the Lord rejoined the devas on this day, the devas celebrated His arrival in jubilation and thus Dev Diwali came into being.
Though the devas celebrated the Lord’s return, we mortals celebrate Dev Diwali by eradicating our inner demons – the base instincts of ego, anger, greed, lust, … and the resulting manifestation of divinity within.

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"People should not worry as much about what they do but rather about what they are.  If they and their ways are good, then their deeds are radiant. If you are righteous, then what you do will also be righteous.  We should not think that holiness is based on what we do but rather on what we are, for it is not our works which sanctify us but we who sanctify our works." (Meister Eckhart - German Writer and Theologian, 1260-1328) This picture was shot along the Ganges in Varanasi (Benaras), at the junction of Manikarnika Ghat and Scindia Ghat, during the celebrations of Dev Diwali. Everywhere candles are lit as a mark of welcome to God who is believed to descend on earth on that special day. The meaning of this festival is to eradicate our inner demons while meeting the Lord. After leaving king Bali, the Lord rejoined the devas on this day, the devas celebrated His arrival in jubilation and thus Dev Diwali came into being. Though the devas celebrated the Lord's return, we mortals celebrate Dev Diwali by eradicating our inner demons - the base instincts of ego, anger, greed, lust, ... and the resulting manifestation of divinity within.