The rich art and culture of the holy city of Varanasi make it a city of global fame and unparalleled fabric. Mark Twain, the renowned English author had sung loud praises for Varanasi by describing it as a city that’s ‘older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend’. The meandering by-lanes of the city, the densely crowded streets, the extravaganza of temples impart the city with a buzzing, chaotic look but at the core of all chaos, lies the serenity of a mammoth culture that’s both deep and rich. This rich culture of the city is sanctified by the city’s religious fervor, and glorified by several fascinating myths. The city’s cultural traditions are of classical import and beautifully fuse the physical and the spiritual into one complete ‘whole’
Mythical Aura of Varanasi and Its Link with the City’s Culture
The compelling mythological legacy of the holy city of Varanasi enriches its history. The earlier name of Varanasi was Kashi and it means ‘to shine’. According to puranic texts, this ancient city was made by the supreme duo; Lord Shiva and his divine consort; Goddess Parvati at the start of creation. The divine duo stood on the city of Varanasi after descending on earth for the first time. In the ancient puranic text, ‘Vamana Purana’, Varanasi has been described as the holy land located in the midst of rivers Varuna and Assi that flowed out of the body of the pre-creation, primeval being. In other words, a fascinating mythical aura makes an integral part of Varanasi’s cultural fabric.
Religious Traditions & Worshipping Cults of Varanasi
The city of Varanasi is dotted with numerous religious sites, institutions, faiths and worshipping modes and symbolizes a religious tradition that’s all-encompassing in nature. The religious tradition of Varanasi still adheres to many of the famed religious primitive cults and this something pretty unique.
Literary Traditions of Varanasi
Varanasi has enjoyed fame as the country’s ‘capital of knowledge’ or ‘Sarva Vidya ki Rajdhani’ since time immemorial. Many great scholars and intellectual personalities have emerged from the land of Varanasi. The city is home to a vast array of academic institutions of which BHU or Benaras Hindu University is a renowned name. In many of the academic institutions of Varanasi, the ancient Guru Shishya tradition is still observed. The flourishing literary tradition of Varanasi consists of literature such as novels, poetry books, dialects, journals, newspapers. There are many old libraries in the city that uphold the rare and rich literary tradition of the city.
Craft Culture of Varanasi
The craft culture of Varanasi mirrors artistic intricacies and gorgeously ornate looks of the crafts produced by the skilled local artisans. Silk weaving is one of the most famous crafts of Varanasi and artisans who excel in this craft create aesthetically appealing masterpieces that come in the form of luxurious and elegant Benarasi Silks and gorgeous Brocades. Many of these artisans are involved in this craft across many generations and have become experts in making exotic threadworks out silver and zari threads on the soft and vibrantly colored silk fabrics. The demand for Varanasi silk countrywide and worldwide is pretty high. Apart from silk craft, Varanasi also excels in crafts such as intricate ornament making, clay toy making, woodwork, brassware, and copperware crafts.
Musical Traditions & Performance Art of Varanasi
Varanasi is a musical destination and has seen the rise of three most prominent cultural expressions; i.e. music, drama, and entertainment. Each of these cultural aspects is associated with spirituality and held synonymous of one another in the holy city of Varanasi. Both vocals, as well as instrumental music, has thrived in this holy city that has also given the country some of the best musical maestros like Pandit Ravi Shankar and Bismillah Khan. The musical gharanas of Varanasi are of global repute and so are the various dance forms that have thrived on the land. Rich traditions of Folk music, Sports shows, drama and fests too have imparted Varanasi with an unparalleled cultural uniqueness.