A Night to Remember in Banaras: Dev Diwali’s Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

A Night to Remember In Banaras: Dev Diwali’s Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

When it comes to experiencing the true essence of India’s rich cultural heritage, few festivals can match the splendor of Dev Diwali, celebrated in the holy city of Varanasi. This grand festival, also known as the “Festival of Lights of the Gods,” is a mesmerizing spectacle that has been enchanting locals and tourists alike for centuries. India is known as the country of festivals. Indians are very fond of celebrations and festivals. In addition, they have the opportunity to mix different colors of modernity at the festival. The mythological event of gods lighting lamps in Kashi (Varanasi) in honor of Lord Shiva, the destroyer of Tripurasur, has been celebrated as Dev Diwali for years in Varanasi. In this article, we invite you to join us on a virtual journey to Varanasi, where we will explore the captivating magic of Dev Diwali and why it stands as a unique and unforgettable celebration in the heart of India.

A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

The Holy City of Varanasi

Before delving into the enchanting world of Dev Diwali, it’s essential to understand the significance of Varanasi itself. Known as the spiritual capital of India, Varanasi, or Kashi, holds a special place in the hearts of millions of devout Hindus. Nestled on the banks of the sacred river Ganges, this ancient city is a living embodiment of India’s spiritual and cultural heritage.

The Mythological Origins of Diwali: The Tale of Tripurasura and Lord Brahma’s Boon

A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

There is an interesting mythology that is directly related to the festival of Diwali, so read it first. There were three asuras (demons) named Tarakaksha, Kamalaksha, and Vidhunmali, who were collectively known as Tripurasura. Once, they indulged in severe penance to please Lord Brahma. They worshiped standing on one leg for 1,000 years. They did the same for another 1,000 years in the sky, and then for another 1,000 years in Shirshasana mudra, they performed rigorous devotion to Lord Brahma.

A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

Finally, the creator of all creation (Lord Brahma) was pleased. When he asked Tripurasura for a boon, they expressed their desire for immortality, but Lord Brahma refused. Hence, the three Asuras asked for gold, silver, and iron castles for themselves. The places of the three were heaven, the sky, and earth, respectively. These demons repeatedly tormented the gods of heaven and the sages of the earth. Troubled gods went to Lord Brahma and prayed for putting the stories of those demons to an end. As Lord Brahma could not accomplish this task, he remembered Lord Shiva, the destroyer of creation.A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

The need arose for a proper bow and arrow to kill the demon army and a chariot that could move across heaven, the sky, and earth. Lord Shiva assigned the task of making it to Vishwakarma, the architect of the gods. The vehicles and weapons for war were made, so Lord Shiva set out to kill Tarakaksha, Kamalaksha, and Vidyanamali. At exactly the same time, the elusive Asuras combined their three castles and multiplied their strength. As none of the other missiles worked against the Asuras, Mahadev finally used his own weapon, the Pasupatastra. The three demons were killed by him. All the gods alighted on the banks of the Ganges at Shiva-nagari Kashi (present-day Varanasi), gave Lord Shiva names like Tripurantaka and Tripurari, lit many lamps, and performed Aarti to him and the river Ganga. Dev-Diwali is the event celebrated by the gods in honor of Lord Shiva. Dev Diwali is the 15th day after the common Diwali that we already know.

A Spiritual Haven

Varanasi is steeped in spirituality, with thousands of temples, ghats, and ashrams dotting its landscape. Pilgrims from across the globe flock here to seek blessings, cleanse their souls in the holy waters of the Ganges, and perform rituals that are believed to release them from the cycle of rebirth.

Exploring Varanasi’s Ghats: Rich History and Sacred SignificanceA Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

A total of 85 ghats are located here on the banks of tens of kilometers of the Ganges. Many ghats were built by the Maratha rulers or renovated by the Marathas. The most famous ghat is Dashashwamedha, which is said to have been built by Lord Brahma himself. In 1740 AD, Bajirao Peshwa restored Dashashwamedh, and then in 1774 AD, the Queen of Indore, Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar, renovated it. Another famous ghat called Manikarnika is known as Maha-Smashan. The funeral pyre of the pious remains burning there around the clock. According to folk belief, a devotee who is cremated at Manikarnika Ghat attains moksha and merges directly into Lord Shiva.A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

Another famous ghat is known as Assi. The Assi River meets the Ganges here. It is said that after killing the demons named Shumbha and Nishumbha, Goddess Durga threw her sword into the river Assi. Bathing at Assi Ghat is believed to give merit to all pilgrimages.
Another popular one is Scindhia Ghat. There is a religious belief that God Agni was born at this place. Built by the King of Nepal, Lalit Ghat is a treasure trove of beautiful scenic views for painters and photographers. Many such ghats have their own unique identity in Varanasi.

The Divine ConnectionA Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

Dev Diwali is believed to be the day when the gods themselves descend from heaven to bathe in the holy waters of the Ganges. Pilgrims and locals alike prepare for this momentous occasion with unwavering devotion. The atmosphere is thick with spirituality as the chants of hymns and the fragrance of incense fill the air.

The Splendor of Dev Diwali

Dev Diwali, which translates to “Diwali of the Gods,” is a celebration like no other. It falls on the full moon night of the Hindu month of Kartik, typically in November. While Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated throughout India, Varanasi’s Dev Diwali is a grander, more extravagant affair.A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

The festival of Diwali is celebrated with great fanfare throughout India, but if you want to see the festival of Dev Diwali that comes a fortnight later with full enthusiasm, excitement, and pomp, then you have to travel to Varanasi, an ancient city with around 23,000 temples. On this day, the whole of Varanasi is lit up with millions of lamps and lights.

 

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The town of Varanasi on the banks of the Ganges, where the Sri Kashi Vishwanath temple, one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of India, is located, was called Kashi in ancient times. Famous writer Mark Twain said about Varanasi, “This city is older than history, older than tradition, older than legend—and history, tradition, and legend combine all three to make Varanasi seem twice as old.”

The Ganga Aarti ExtravaganzaA Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

At the heart of Dev Diwali lies the breathtaking Ganga Aarti ceremony. This sacred ritual takes place on the Dashashwamedh Ghat, one of the most prominent and revered ghats along the Ganges. As the sun sets and the evening sky is painted in hues of orange and pink, the ghat comes alive with the mesmerizing sight of thousands of oil lamps illuminating the riverbanks.

Dev Diwali in Varanasi: A Spectacle of Lights and Spiritual TraditionsA Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

Diwali is celebrated in Ayodhya, the city of Lord Ram, but Dev Diwali is more colorful than Diwali in Varanasi. A cleaning campaign starts at every ghat a few days before the celebration, as tourists start arriving on Prabodhi Ekadashi, five days before Diwali
Ganga Mahotsav is celebrated for five days, in which various rangolis are made with flowers on the ghats, lamps are lit, and many lamps are also floated in the river Ganga to welcome gods. On the occasion of this festival, devotees and pilgrims take a Kartik bath in the holy waters of the Ganga at dawn. Devotees do not miss taking a dip for the supernatural feeling, despite the cold weather in addition to the river water in the winter season.A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

After the conclusion of the Ganga festival, Diwali begins with Ganesh Vandana. Vedic mantras are recited by a total of 21 Brahmins and 41 girls after garlanding Lord Ganesha. Deep Pragatya ceremony is followed by Maha-Arti at Dashashwamedh Ghat, which can be called the main attraction of the day. After all the rituals are over, the artists perform the tiger dance under the Nritya Ganga program.

 

A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

On the eve of Dev Diwali, numerous clay lamps are lit at the steps of every ghat in Varanasi. Akash-deep (lantern) is hung on a long bamboo stick tied to bamboo poles. The ancient and arcane temples on the ghats are illuminated with electric lampposts and colored floodlights. To enjoy this view, people take a boat ride and enjoy the river Ganga and the lights on the ghat.

 

A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

The festival is not limited to the Ghats. If you go for a walk in the narrow streets of Varanasi, you can see the glory of Dev Diwali from house to house. Many residents of Varanasi also organize a non-stop Ramayana. An organization called Ganga Seva Nidhi pays tribute to the bravest soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the defense of our country by placing floral wreaths at the ‘Amar Jawan Jyoti Memorial‘ at Dasashwamedh Ghat.

Dashashwamedh Ghat: Where the Ganga Aarti Lights Up the NightA Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

Dashashwamedh Ghat, of mythological importance, is known for Ganga Aarti. Aarti of Goddess Ganga is performed here every day after sunset, to which people come hours before the start of the aarti and secure their places on the steps of the ghat as well as other places. As many people also take part in the boats, all the boats get occupied. Even on normal days, the Ganga Aarti of the Deshashwamedh Ghat is grand, while the Maha-Arti of the Dev-Diwali is very simple. Amidst the millions of lamps lit on the steps of the ghat, Bankas are decorated with beautiful cloths, aarti paraphernalia, lamps, and flowers. The scene of the priests standing on bankas and performing Ganga Aarti is ethereal. Feelings of exhilaration fill the mind as one sees the lights flickering on the seven-tiered, two-handed brass Aarti stand.

Dev Diwali’s Spiritual Splendor: The Aarti, Chants, and Luminous Offerings

A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

It is also a unique treat to see the priests performing aarti with Sanskrit chants in uniform Indian dress with silk dhoti, silk kurta and gamcha tied around the shoulders and waist. Substances like camphor and incense sticks used during Goddess Ganga’s aarti infuse the atmosphere with such an aroma of faith that devotees cannot help but become emotional. After the Ganga Aarti is over, people light many lamps and float them in the river. Sitting on the shore or even boating is a different way to look at millions of such dunes. You will never know where the hours are spent enjoying the beautiful views of the ghats.

Dev Diwali in Varanasi: A Festival of Prosperity, Faith, and JoyA Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

The celebration of Dev Diwali brings financial prosperity to the people of Varanasi. From pandits who perform rituals to flower sellers, hotels, restaurants, confectioners, etc. provide a good livelihood. On other days of the year, the recession is offset by the festival of Diwali. The illumination of various ghats of the Ganga, the faith of lakhs of people, Maha-arti, boating, food and drink festivity, etc. are all completed with colorful and varied firework displays at night. If you want to watch or celebrate Dev-Diwali, perhaps there is no better place than Varanasi.

The Magnificent Rangoli

A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

One of the most captivating aspects of Dev Diwali in Varanasi is the intricate and colorful rangoli designs that adorn the streets and ghats. Rangoli is a traditional art form where intricate patterns are created on the ground using colored rice, flower petals, or colored powders. During Dev-Diwali, these rangoli designs become larger and more elaborate, covering entire streets and squares.

A Feast for the Senses

As the night sky twinkles with stars, the aroma of delectable Indian sweets and savory snacks wafts through the air. Food stalls line the streets, offering a gastronomic adventure for all who visit. From piping hot samosas to sweet Jalebis, Dev Diwali is a feast for the senses in every sense of the word.

Culinary Delights of Varanasi: A Feast for Every PalateA Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

During festivals like Dev Diwali, millions of people from all over India and thousands of people from abroad visit Varanasi. When people from all castes are coming, it is natural that their food will also be different. Despite this, Varanasi city wins the hearts of tourists by providing dishes that are loved and remembered by all. Let’s know a little about some mouth-watering dishes.

 

Tomato Chaat:A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

A dish called Aloo Chaat is famous in North India, while delicious tomato chaat can be found on the streets of Varanasi. This chaat is prepared by adding tomato, boiled mashed potato, onion, green chillies, sweet chutney, and coriander. Additionally, spices like garam masala, hing (asefoetida), red chilli powder, and black pepper are also good. In the rosy cold of winter, one likes to enjoy the spicy and tangy taste of tomato chaat. Pure desi ghee is poured over the chaat before serving so that the chilies and spices do not ‘go bad’. Every market selling tomato chaat in Varanasi makes delicious chaat, but a shop called ‘Kashi Chaat Bhandar’ is famous here.

Kachori Sabji:

A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

A combination of hot, crispy kachori with potato curry is the most popular snack here. As many shops make their own version of this delicacy, there are three main varieties found here. The most common type of kachori is a large kachori filled with dal and a small kachori filled with potato mixture. These kachoris are served in cup with juicy potatoes. So, kachori can be found everywhere in Kashi, but ‘Ram Bhandar’ in Chowk and ‘Madhur Milan’ near Dashashwamedh Ghat are the best places.

Chura Matar:

Chuda Matar can be described as a Varanasi version of Poha (flattened parched rice). Poha is prepared by sautéing green peas, hing, black pepper, and garam masala in desi ghee. Finally, a little cream, dry fruits, and coriander are sprinkled for garnish and served. Chuda Matar is an ideal breakfast with evening tea in Varanasi. This dish differs from the Maharashtrian and Indori Poha. ‘Dina Chaat Bhandar’ and ‘Kashi Chaat Bhandar’ are popular for Chuda Matar.

Thandai:

A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

This drink is famous all over the country for its special taste and pleasant experience. Thandai is prepared with the rich flavor of fennel seeds, cardamom, pepper, saffron, dry fruits, sugar, and milk. Dry fruits are added to the Banarasi Thandai in an earthen kulhad.

Lassi:

A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

The lassi of Varanasi is totally different from the one of Punjab because it is prepared like an ice cream or a dessert. In kulhad, a thick rabdi is added to a thick lassi topped by cream and dry fruits, which is a real heaven for taste lovers. The shop named ‘Blue Lassi Shop’ is filled with customers all day. This shop is located in a narrow space in Kachori Gali. The same lane leads to the Manikarnika ghat, so while enjoying the lassi, you can see funerals passing by. Such a view speaks volumes about the transience of life.

Jalebi-Rabdi:

A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

If you want to experience something different in dessert, try the combination of Varanasi Rabdi and jalebi made in pure desi ghee. Both of these are known as indipendent sweets, but their combination results in a very delicious dessert. The taste of rabdi doubles the pleasure of eating crispy sweet jalebi by pouring rabdi over jalebi fried in desi ghee. Many people try hot jalebi right after kachori sabji.

Long-lata:

A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

The pocket, which is prepared by adding sugar and dry fruit powder inside the khoya is filled with a thick filling of white floar. The leaf-nest-shaped pockets are then fried in ghee to make the outer layer crispy, cloves are sprinkled on the surface, and finally the pocket is dipped in syrup. Sweet inside, crispy syrupy outer surface, and clove flavor make longata a variety dessert.

Apart from this, relishing Varanasi legendary items like Chhena Dahiwada, Batti or Litti Chokha, Dahi Chutney Golgappa, Malai Toast, Malaiyo, and the legendary Banarasi Paan makes one feel like heaven.

Points to know before and while visiting Varanasi:A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

When planning a visit to Varanasi during Dev Diwali, there are several important points to consider to make the most of your experience:

Perfect time of visiting:

Dev Diwali is celebrated on the Ghats of Varanasi, mostly in November, and for five days from Ekadashi to Purnima of Shukla-paksha in the month of Kartik, according to the Hindu calendar.

Accommodation Booking:

A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

Due to the high influx of tourists during Dev Diwali, it’s advisable to book your accommodation well in advance to ensure you have a place to stay. A wide range of options are available, from locals’ homes to inns, guest houses, and very cheap to expensive hotels. If you get a landing near Dashashwamedh Ghat, there will be a lot of convenience in traveling, but advance planning is imperative.

Travel Arrangements:

Make travel arrangements, including flights or train tickets, ahead of time to avoid any last-minute hassles.

Crowds:

Be prepared for large crowds. Varanasi attracts pilgrims and tourists from all over the world during this festival, so patience is key.

Dress Code:A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

Respect the local culture and traditions by dressing modestly, especially if you plan to visit temples or participate in religious ceremonies.

Ghat Etiquette:

When visiting the ghats, be mindful of the environment. Do not litter, and dispose of waste responsibly.

Ganga Aarti Timing:

The Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat is a highlight of Dev Diwali. Ensure you arrive well in advance to secure a good spot, as it can get crowded quickly.

Boat Ride:A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

Consider taking a boat ride on the Ganges during the evening to get a unique perspective of the festival.

Safety:

Be cautious of your belongings, as crowded areas can be targets for pickpockets. Keep important documents and valuables secure.

Local Cuisine:A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

Try the local street food and traditional sweets. Varanasi is known for its delectable dishes, and Dev Diwali is an excellent time to savor them.

Respect Traditions:

Participate in the rituals and ceremonies with respect and humility. Ask for permission before taking photographs during religious events.

Health Precautions:A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

Drink bottled water, and consider carrying hand sanitizers. Varanasi is known for its street food, so be cautious if you have a sensitive stomach.

 

 

 

Cultural Sensitivity:

Be aware of the local customs and traditions. It’s advisable to research and understand the significance of the festival beforehand.

 

Fireworks:5 1

Enjoy the spectacular fireworks display during the night, but maintain safety precautions and follow local guidelines.

 

 

 

Local Guides:A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

Consider hiring a local guide who can provide insights into the festival’s history and significance.

Transportation:

Be aware of transportation options within the city, as traffic can be congested during Dev Diwali.

Plus know this:

Don’t carry too much expensive cash in Varanasi for Dev Diwali as you see huge crowds and crowded narrow lanes.A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

. As winter has already arrived in the month of Kartik, it is necessary to carry warm clothes,

* Ganga Aarti is a daily routine at Dasashwamedh Ghat. It is fun to visit Varanasi even if it is not the occasion of Dev-Diwali. 

# If you want to have traditional Food, go to the area around the Kashi Vishwanath temple. The area known as the ‘chowk’ is a well-known hub for eating and shopping.

By keeping these points in mind, you can have a memorable and enriching experience during Dev Diwali in Varanasi while respecting the local culture and traditions.A Night to Remember: Dev Diwali's Enchanting Charms in Varanasi

Conclusion

Dev Diwali in Varanasi is a celestial experience that transcends mere words. It’s a night when spirituality, culture, and tradition come together to create an enchanting tapestry that leaves an indelible mark on those who are fortunate enough to witness it. The Ganga Aarti, the rangoli art, the divine connection—all these elements combine to make Dev Diwali an unforgettable night to cherish.


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