Ganga MahotsavRiver Ganga or - as she has been known from ancient times has been the seat of one of the ancient civilisations. The Gangetic plains made the land as well as the minds fertile as she traversed through the plains of the North India. Varanasi situated almost mid-way in her long journey to the oceans had been the crowning glory of Gangetic splendour both for the fertility to the land and the people who live there. It is, therefore, just apt that ‘Ganga Mahotsav’ – which celebrates the Ma Ganga is a mega event at Varanasi.
It is an intriguing fact that Ganga, the ever magnanimous river is firmly believed to wash off the sins of any being who partakes her waters or takes a dip especially at the holy ghats of Varanasi. If one were to go by the legends, it is here at Varanasi that the river is believed to be ‘giving the ultimate’ entry to the gates of heaven or ‘Moksha’ to every one of its seekers. Varanasi also known as Kashi or Benares is a place, which brims with an ethereal space to kindle the soul of even a well discerned. It is a city with a rich past, entwined with a complimenting present. A city ever evolving and yet, intensely firm with its traditional roots. Varanasi can also be termed as the ‘culture capital’ of India.
Varanasi and Ganga are twin entities, one without the other loses its significance. This city is filled with vibrant colours, ringing of vedic chants, fragrance in the air, the subtle and constant sound of the tiny waves that hit the banks.
Ganga Mahotsav – ‘An ode to Ganga’ as one might call it, is a five-day-long festival which has a two pronged purpose. The first and the primary aspect being a man’s way to thank the perennial and mighty Ganges, and the secondary being an approach to promote the essence of the kindness of the rivers – a tertiary fall out is of course, tourism. It is celebrated each year in the month of November, starting from Prabodhani Ekadashi to Karthik Poornima. The Department of Tourism Uttar Pradesh, provides a platform for professional artists across the nation. It is an effort to display the rich cultural heritage of Varanasi. It fosters classical dancers, vocalists, musicians and artisans during this festival. Each night the air is filled with divine and mystical renditions.
A Shilp Mela, is organised on all five days as a part of this Mahotsav where artisans across the country exhibit their handicrafts. It provides for a great opportunity for shopping exquisite artefacts.
The last day coincides with the Dev Deepavali, this is when each house is lit with beautiful Diyas or lamps. It is on this day that the ‘Gods descend to the earth for a dip in the holy Ganges. To mark this, not just the banks, but it seems as if the stars are strewn across the Ganges, when the earthern lamps are lit and are allowed to drift in the water, swaying and dancing to the movements of the ripples. The cymbals ring, prayers are chanted and the ‘Aarti’ wherein the whole atmosphere turns cosmic and one has to witness to believe the beauty. Locals, tourists across the globe gather around to watch this event, few enjoy the pleasure of a boat ride amidst this celestial spectre.
Apart from these celebrations, a moment is taken for all the martyrs who gave up their lives guarding our country, a tribute to the heroic departed souls. Wreaths are placed at the Amar Gate at the Dashashwamedh Ghat and the armed forces perform a last post which is followed by an aerial cracker show. The whole sky gets lit up with the exuberance of the atmosphere.
This Mahotsav is not just a tourist attraction but has immense semblance and divinity attached to it. If you want a soulful experience, there is no place else you could choose to be, other than this city of ‘MOKSHA’.