Culture of Varanasi
One cannot take away from Varanasi. Art in its various forms such as literature, music, dance, painting and sculpting, histrionics light up the holy city. Varanasi for years has been a home to some of the finest litterateurs of the country. Saint and poet Tulsidas has written a large part of its renowned Ram Charit Manas sitting on what we today call Tulsi Ghat. Other poets like Kabir, Ravi Das, Jai Shankar Prasad, Munsi Prem Chand, Devika Nandan Khatri, Acharya Shukla, Jagganath Prasad Ratnakar, Vagish Sashtri, Tegh Ali, Hazari Prasad Dwivedi and many more writers hail from this city. Illustrated journals of earlier times like Varanasi Chandroday and Kashivartaprakashika were productions of Varanasi printing press.
Aj, a leading newspaper of northern India, known for its high standard of Hindi language has its headquarters in Varanasi.
Celebrated artists like Rai Krishnadasa, Anand Krishna, Ravi Shankar, Omkarnath Thakur, Girija Devi, Sitara Devi, Kishan Maharaj, Santa Prasad, Channulal Mishra among others have had their first artistic lessons in Varanasi. Academy of Indian Classical Music also known as Benaras Music Academy is one of the well-known institutes of present times and has produced some gem musicians. Sitar, table, flute, vocal, harmonium and even kathak dance is taught in the academy.
Festivity celebrations are more than frequent in the city. The secular Varanasi is a home to people of different religions and each festival is celebrated with equal devotion and aplomb. This never-ending series of festivals is also a deliberate attempt to restore India’s rich tradition and culture in this modern, glitzy world. All night musical concerts playing devotional songs are a common sight in the city.
Varanasi’s refined culture also gets reflected on its rich handicrafts and craftsmanship. The city is particularly known for its soft and smooth Banarasi silk with delicate embroideries, carpets, silver and golden thread works, wood and clay crafts, copper and brass works.
Education is an intrinsic part of Varanasi’s culture. The city for ages has been revered for its academic excellence and today Varanasi is associated with quality learning and some established institutes relating to various fields of academics, art and aesthetics. A number of students from across borders stay in the city to attend workshops or advance courses mainly in painting and sculpting field.
A write-up on Varanasi’s culture is incomplete without the mention of akharas or wrestling. For years people from various parts of the country come down to Varanasi to learn the basics of this traditional game. On a trip down the ghats one can notice wrestlers practicing various moves of the game. It is an interesting sight that did not take long to evolve as one of the sites to watch in Varanasi.
Varanasi, thus has a wide and varied culture that makes the city an interesting destination in India.