On the auspicious night of “Kartik Poornima” (full moon) in the month of November every year, The Ghats of Varanasi come alive with thousands of Diyas (earthen lamps), as they celebrate the grand festival of “Dev Deepavali (also known as Dev Diwali)”. This is why you should plan a trip to Varanasi around this time.
Even though the name suggests so and both are festival of lights, this festival is different from the popular festival of “Diwali”. Diwali is celebrated on an “Amavasya” (no moon night), whereas Dev Deepavali is celebrated after fifteen days of Diwali on a full moon night. It is when the natives of Varanasi pay tribute to the Holy river, Ganga. Plan a trip to Varanasi for this since the festival is celebrated so beautifully. This year it’s falling on the 12th of November.
If mythological tales are to be believed, Hindu Gods are said to descend on Earth on this special day. It is said to mark Lord Shiva’s victory over demon Tripurasur. It’s celebrated on the last day of “Ganga Mahotsav”, which begins on “Prabodhini Ekadashi” (11thday of the Lunar month of Kartik). It is concludes on Dev Deepavali.
A large number of devotees come together to take a dip in the Holy Ganga to purify their souls and get redemption for their sins. They pray to Goddess Ganga with offerings of flowers, light clay lamps or diyas in the evening. “Deepdaan” is the religious act of offering diyas. With the sun going down at dusk, Varanasi turns into a literal paradise with every single step of the staircases at the ghats glittering with millions of diyas. The temples are lit beautifully with lamps and the view is in fact captivating.
Varanasi is a dream destination for most travelers and spiritual seekers. Not only from India, but people from all over the world visit and stay in Varanasi for days. You can find them meditating on the banks of the Holy River Ganga. They also pay several visits to the temples in this “city of temples”, Varanasi. Dev Deepawali is that time of the year when Varanasi seems like an heavenly abode of the Gods. You might want to consider planning a trip to Varanasi during this time.
Events of the Festival
The traditional plan of events for Dev Deepawali is elaborate and is followed very religiously every year. The ceremony starts with the offerings of prayers and flowers to Lord Ganesh with Ganesh Vandana. It is then followed by offering diyas for “deepdaan” along with the magical act of 21 Brahmins and 41 young girls chanting Vedic mantras in the background. The whole moment is very mesmerizing and a must experience. Then the devotees who have come for the holy dip, start taking a dip in the holy water. This is known as “Kartik Snan”. During the festival, many households also organize “Akhand Ramayan” which is the chanting of the holy scripture of Ramayana, followed by Bhoj offered to people, which is a form of feast.
What makes this day even more special is that besides that religious activities, on this day people also remember and pay homage to martrys at the ghats. While paying respects to the martyrs, they pray to Ganga Maata (The Holy river is considered to be a Goddess). At Dashashwamedh Ghat,“Ganga Seva Nidhi” organises this and garlands are placed at “Amar Jawan Jyoti”. Also, the police department, and members of three armed forces, place garlands at the adjoining Rajendra Prasad Ghat. Patriotic songs are sung to mark this event . Bhagirath Shourya Samman awards concludes the event. There is no other festival where you might get to witness such a beautiful blend of religiousness and patriotism, which is why you must plan a trip to Varanasi and attend Dev Deepawali.
The Ghats lit up with diyas offers such a spectacular view, that it can’t really be experience anywhere else. The number of devotees grows manifold too. Gods are believed to descend to Varanasi on this occasion, to dip in the Holy River Ganga. It is one of the reasons why this festival is so popular and yet restricted to the city of Varanasi. The ghats look so magical that a lot of domestic and international tourists who aren’t even devotees, visit just to witness this.
The Ganga Aarti
The Ganga Aarti performed on this auspicious occasion isn’t like any other aarti. Aarti is a way of worship in Hinduism. This is an offering in the form of light and fire while chanting holy mantras. During this special Ganga Aarti the whole ghat becomes illuminated and vibrant. Even the tourists are able to absorb the positivity.
There is crowd at the Dashashwamedh Ghat at this point. But it doesn’t curb the excitement or enthusiasm that devotees and tourists come with. Ganga Aarti performed is easily the most elaborate during this time . Experience the next big aarti at the Assi Ghat. Furthermore you can visit the Reeva ghat, Kedar ghat, Man Mandir ghat and Panch Ganga Ghat.
The Ganga Mahotsav
As mentioned earlier, The Ganga Mahotsav begins on Prabodhini Ekadashi and continues for five days. It is more like a cultural panorama and food paradise. The people of Varanasi celebrate this mahotsav as a token of gratitude towards Holy River Ganga or rather the Goddess Ganga. They believe that Goddess Ganga has blessed them. Dashashwamedh Ghat is where it was held originally but it has been shifted to the Ravidas Ghat recently.
During this mahotsav, Varanasi comes alive with a lot of music, dance and theatre. Legends like Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Pt. Chaanulal Mishra, Pt. Birju Maharaj, Anuradha Paudwal and others have graced the stage with their mesmerizing performances over the years. Even in dance and drama, renowned artists come to perform every year. For the foodies, there is a spread of delicacies. You can find Bati chokha Banarasi chaats, Mughlai and continental cuisine here.
Varanasi is designed like a bow. This is because of the meandering river Ganga. Dev Deepawali is the perfect occasion to see that bow lit up to every last inch. You can get to savour the beauty of all 84 ghats of Ganga in Varanasi, if you go for a long boat ride. You’re sure to feel like you’re in paradise, giving you a once in a lifetime experience.
So go plan a trip to Varanasi and experience the magic of this beautiful festival that you won’t ever forget. If you need help with planning a trip to any of these places, hire a Scout. Travel experts from all over will help you #MarkAndEmbark on a journey of a lifetime.