Festivals in Varanasi
Every festival, especially all Hindu ritual is rejoiced with utmost devotion and gaiety. During each occasion people from faraway lands visit the holy city to witness the festivity as well as pay homage to the Lord. Let’s take a look at the important festivals the city organises.
This “Festival of Lights of the Gods”, is celebrated 15 days after Diwali, on a full moon night. In honour of river Ganga, millions of diyas or earthen lamps are lit in all the 7km stretch ghats in the city. It is indeed a breath-taking sight when all these lamps are lit at night and the whole city wears a bright golden look.
It is believed that on this Devv Deepavali days, gods descend on earth to bathe in the holy river, Ganges. Many even refer to this day as Tripura Purnima Snan.
The first Dev Deepavali festival in Varanasi was organised in 1985 at Panchganga Ghat. Not just the ghats, even the households are decorated with lamps and rangolis and people burn crackers all through the night. Colourful processions are also organised during this day.
Ganga Aarti and puja take place on Dashashwamedha Ghat that is performed by 24 girls and 21 Bramhin boys. Chanting hymns, blowing conch shells, reciting prayers, brazier burning, rhythmic drum beating are some of the rituals performed during Ganga Aarti. This festival attracts tourists from all corners of the world who comes to witness the magical evening.
Ganga Mahotsav, a five-day-festival also takes place during the Dev Deepavali time. It starts on Prabodhani Ekadashi and continues till Karthik Poornima. These five days are marked with cultural programmes, boat race, arts and crafts fair, martial art and sculpture displays.
Buddha Purnima and Buddha Mahotasav
This festival accompanied by a colourful fair is celebrated to rejoice the birth of Lord Buddha. This day is also known as Buddha Jayanti and is celebrated in the months of Vaishakh that is April and May.
Sarnath, a place in Varanasi is known to have strong Buddhist connection and it is here Buddha Purnima is celebrated with pomp and gaiety. Remnants of Buddha are displayed to tourists and a huge fair is organised on this day. Entire Sarnath is decorated with earthen lamps. First Buddha Mahotsav was organised by Uttar Pradesh Tourism department in 1998 and has gradually evolved as a major tourist attraction.
Another major festival in Varanasi is Ramleela. It is a 31-day affair and vibrant stage shows displaying scenes of the epic Ramayana where Lord Rama rescues Sita from Lanka and kills demon god Ravana. After the end of every play, priests perform Aarti and chants of “Bolo Raja Ramchandra Ki Jai” and “Har Har Mahadev” fills the air. A fair is held in Ramnagar to rejoice the occasion.
It was started by Maharaja Udit Narayan Singh in 1830.
Varanasi is known as the cultural capital of India and is particularly known for the city’s love for music. To showcase this love, a five day musical festival known as Dhrupad festival is held in the city. Music connoisseurs from all over the country are invited to perform at Tulsi Ghat. This festival attracts a huge number of foreign tourists to the city.
This is the most important festival in the city as Lord Shiva is widely revered in Varanasi. It is celebrated in Krishna Paksha that is on 13th or 14th day of February/March. It is mostly performed by girls and women praying for a happy and prosperous married life. People gather at Kashi Vishwanath Temple and worship Shivalingam. Some pour water and some milk and honey over Shivalingam to please the Lord. The Lord is worshipped through the entire day and night and chants of “Om Namah Shivaya” fill the entire city.
This festival is celebrated in the month of October at Chetganj in Varanasi. The occasion is meant to represent the victory of good over evil. On this day Nakkatayya Leela is staged. It is an episode from Ramayana where Lakshman slits Surpanakha’s nose while she was trying to entice both Lord Ram and Lakshman. A huge fair is organised in the city which is visited by hundreds of people.
This is celebrated in honour of Lord Hanuman’s birth anniversary that happens every year in Chaitra Purnima. On this day devotees of Lord Hanuman wears a vermillion tilak on their forehead as it is believed that the Lord loved vermillion.
This is one of the important festivals in Varanasi that is celebrated to rejoice one of the most outstanding episode in Lord Krishna’s life. It is said that in order to save the villagers from the poisonous snake king cobra, Kaliya that lived inside the river, Lord Krishna jumped into the river and after a long battle with Kaliya emerged out of the river as a winner. This incident is staged on Nag Nathaiya day that happens every year in the months of November-December.
These are the most important festivals in Varanasi. Other occasions such as Bhai Duj or Chitragupt Jayanti, Govardhan Puja, Holi, Chhath Puja, Rath yatra, Pawda, Krishna janmashtami, tulsi vivah are celebrated with equal fervour and zeal.
Panch Kosi Parikrama
This festival is celebrated the women where they have a bath early in the morning at Manikarnika Ghat, wear new clothes and tours five important places in Varanasi – Shivpur, Rameshwar, Kardmeshwar, Kapildhara and Bhimchandi.
This is celebrated just after Dushhera to rejoice the triumph of good deeds over vice. It is celebrated every year at Ramgarh Fort and Nati Imli Palace where pilgrims wearing a tilak on their forehead and garland on their neck march down the lanes of Varanasi.