Diwali is one of the biggest festivals in India. This is the time when the nation comes alive with beautiful, sparkling lights. If you are thinking of making travel plans during this festive season, Varanasi is a great place to be on the Dev Deepawali festival.
What Is Dev Deepawali?
Two weeks after the festival of Diwali, Dev Diwali is celebrated in Varanasi on Kartik Poornima. This festival is also known as Tripurotsav. It marks the victory of Lord Shiva over the demon Tripurasur.
It is believed that on this day the gods and goddesses descend upon the Earth to take a dip in the holy waters of the Ganges. Hence, the name Dev Deepawali or Diwali of Gods.
This year the utsav or festival in Varanasi will be held on 3rd November 2017.
Dev Deepawali encompasses an elaborate set of traditional events that are followed religiously each year. Flowers and prayers are offered to Lord Ganesh to commence the ceremonies. After this, 21 Brahmins and 41 young girls chant vedic mantras as earthen lamps are offered. This is known as Deepdaan.
Thousands of pilgrims and devotees participate in the festival each year. They take a dip in the Ganges. This is called the Kartik Snan. It is believed to be extremely pious, ridding the person of all his or her sins. Some families also organize a chanting of the Ramayana, called the Akhand Ramayan. This is followed by a Bhoj or offering of food to people.
One of the most special events during the Dev Deepawali is the prayers offered to martyrs. Prayers are offered to Ganga Mata and a special aarti is performed. This ceremony is organized by Ganga Seva Nidhi. During these prayers, wreaths are placed at the Rajendra Prasad Ghat and the Amar Jawan Jyotu at Dashashwamedh Ghat by police officers along with members from the three wings of the armed forces- the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. The patriotic songs in the background bring the whole ceremony alive.
The Ganga Aarti
Varanasi is known for the Ganga Aarti, no doubt. But, during Dev Deepawali, it is more spectacular than ever. The whole Dashashwamedh Ghat comes alive with countless earthen lamps. The whole city looks stunning with all the lamp and flower decorations.
Thousands of devotees from across the globe assemble at the Ghat to experience the event. The enthusiasm and excitement fills the air and sends every individual present there into a tizzy.
The Assi Ghat is another popular destination for the evening aarti. You must also visit the Kedar Ghat, Man Mandir Ghat, Reeva Ghat and Panch Ganga Ghat to soak in the fabulous Ganga Aarti.
The Ganga Mahotsav
This is the extra touch of festivities added to the season by the UP Tourism Department. This cultural extravaganza begins on Prabodhini Ekadashi. It goes on for five days and ends on Dev Deepawali. If you are planning to visit Varanasi this Diwali, make sure you plan ahead to witness this fest.
It takes place on the Sant Ravidas Ghat and is one of the biggest platforms for Indian arts and crafts. Here, you will find several crafts, arts, cuisines and cultures on display. Indian sports are also given prominence and you will witness kite flying, boating, the Ganga marathon and wrestling as part of the carnival.
This is when the who’s who of the Indian art and craft community is present at one event. This is also the best time to savor some of the finest delicacies of the region. You have food stalls that give you a taste of Banarasi chaat, Mughlai cuisine and even continental dishes.
Nritya Ganga Programme
The rituals and ceremonies of Dev Deepawali conclude with a grand dance program called the Nritya Ganga Program. Some of the best known names from the field of classical dance and music put up astounding performances.
Several folk artists also participate in this grand show. Dance styles like Odissi, Kathak and Bharathanatyam can be experienced in all their splendor during this program. There are also some drama performances in the line-up. These shows make the whole ambiance richer and more vivid.
Boat Ride Through A Thousand Lights
Once you reach Varanasi, you can take boats to the ghat that you want to visit during the Dev Deepawali Utsav. It’s recommended to take a boat for an unique experience This is when you will see the River Ganges in all her glory. With the teeming lights and their reflection in these divine waters, it is a visual treat that is unparalleled. The 12 feet statue of Goddess Ganga is the main attraction of these boat rides.
You will witness the splendor of the monuments decorated with lights and can also have the most majestic view of the Ganga Aarti. During this season, boat rides are extremely expensive. A pre-booked boat tour package would help to avoid last minute hurdle. Usually a last minute boat ride is never available thanks to the huge number of participants.
Make sure to pre-book your stay for the Dev Deepawali festival. One should have prior accommodation booking since people come here in huge numbers at this festival. For those who are looking for budget options, there are several backpackers’ hostels available. You can witness this mesmerizing experience with fellow travelers which would make your trip to this holy destination easier and comfortable.