Varanasi, India - October 23rd
Last night was my first night in Varanasi. The pictures below, except for the first, are from the Ganga Aarti. The Ganga Aarti is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, performed every night at 6:45 at the ghats on the Ganges River.
The ghats inVaranasi are riverfront steps leading to the banks of River Ganga (Ganges). The city has nearly 100 ghats that stretch out over approximately 7 km. Most of the ghats are bathing and puja ceremony ghats. Puja is a prayer ritual performed by Hindus to host, honor and worship one or more deities, or to spiritually celebrate an event. Some of the ghats are used exclusively as cremation sites.
It is performed by seven priests each on his own platform. Each priest makes the same motions, and chants the same prayers in synch with the others. It's quite a spectacle, both the priests and those who come to see it. In addition, this week is the Indian holiday of Dawali. Dawali celebrates the victory over darkness. Going from the dark into the light. It is a very joyous holiday. Families get together to eat and spend time. The streets are lit up like Christmas trees, much like Christmas in the USA. Dawali brings many more visitors than usual to Varanasi. Events like the nightly Ganga Aarti get thousands of people coming. Its a madhouse.