Varanasi is situated in the state of Uttar Pradesh and is set along the banks of the sacred Ganges and is often believed to be a city made by God on earth. For Hindus, Varanasi is the city that can lead one to salvation or moksha. Pilgrims and devotees visit this place from every corner of the country and the world and make a bee line to Varanasi to take a ritualistic dip in the holy Ganges, and perform their last rites dedicated to their ancestors on the Manikarnika ghat and offer puja at the Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlingam shrine of lord Shiva. The city is intricately linked with the culture and traditions that define India. Hence, every fair and festival is celebrated with great pomp and grandeur in Varanasi as festivals are a reflection of the true culture of India…read on to learn more:
Frenzied crowds all steeped in religious enthusiasm gather for celebrating one of the most vital festivals of Varanasi; Maha Shivratri held around the month of February and Hindu month of Falgun. It is an all-night event and the celebrations are centred round a gorgeous procession that commences from Mrityunaya temple of Varanasi and proceeds towards Kashi Vishwanath temple en route Daranagar. This procession is actually a symbol of Lord Shiva’s wedding procession and night long procession comes to a close at dawn when the Kashi Vishwanath temple is finally reached.
Rangabhari Ekadashi or Aamlaki Ekadashi is ranked among one of the most popular festivals that is related with Kashi Vishwanath temple of Varanasi. It marks the start of Holi in Kashi.
Annakut festival is celebrated on the fourth day from the festival of Diwali and is celebrated in honor of Lord Krishna who had uplifted the Govardhan Parvat with the help of just a single finger in order to protect the natives of Vrindavan from Lord Indra’s wrath. The angry lord had cursed Vrindavan with torrential downpour. Lord Krishna came to the rescue of his beloved cowherd clan by raising the Govardhan hill with an aim of protecting the people of Vrindavan who took shelter under the parvat. In honor of the incident people of Varanasi celebrate Annakut. Making delicacies out of gram flour, cereals, green leafy veggies is a part of Annakut festival and such delicacies are prepared in almost every house of Varanasi.
Panch Koshi Parikrama
This ritualistic parikrama known by the name of Panch Koshi Parikrama is celebrated in Varanasi amid great devotion and piety. The parikrama or circumambulation starts and ends at Varanasi’s Manikarnika ghat after going around the city.
Buddha Mahotsava is observed with great fanfare and religious passion in Sarnath around the months of April-May. The festival is observed on the occasion of Buddha purnima, an auspicious day for people of the Buddhist community. Lord Buddha is said to have taken birth as well as attained Nirvana on this day. On the occasion of Buddha Mahotsava, a festival that was initiated in the year 1998, processions with Lord Buddha relics are taken out on the streets of Sarnath, religious sermons are delivered, the city gets decked up for the mahotsava and Buddha relics are exhibited publicly to the huge crowd of visitors. Also, a colorful fair is organized during this fest.
The festival of Nag Nathaiya had been the brainchild of the great poet Tulsi Das who took initiative to organize this festival around the 16th century. In the recent times this festival is observed in Varanasi’s Tulsi Ghat where huge crowds gather to enjoy the Nag Nathan leela play acted by local performers. The playacting alludes to a mythological tale of Child Krishna defeating venomous serpent Kaliya through the Nag Nathan leela. This festival is celebrated with great pomp and show during the winter months of November-December.
On day 15 post Diwali the festival of Karthikai Deepam takes place in Varanasi. Earthen oil lamps are used to decorate houses as well as ghats on the occasion of the festival that’s celebrated amid fireworks and crackers.
Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated with great grandeur in Varanasi’s Sankat Mochan temple. The festival takes place during the eve of full moon which falls in the month of Chaitra as per Hindu Calendar; i.e. around mid April according to Gregorian calendar. Hanuman Ji; a Rudra avatar is believed to have taken birth on this day. Pilgrims pay an offering of delicious laddoos to the deity at the temple and take part in the special aarti held on the occasion of Hanuman Jayati. They also collect vermillion from the deity’s statue all coated with red vermillion and use it to draw a tilak on their forehead. Cultural programs, musical performances are organized on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti
Dhrupad mela is a 5 day long musical fest celebrated in Varanasi each year. The tradition of Hindustani classical music is an age-old tradition that’s beautifully showcased during the Dhrupad mela. The lofty musical extravaganza associated with Dhrupad mela is indeed an experience in itself and every music lover would definitely crave to be at the Dhrupad mela.