In Photos: On Kartik Purnima, Varanasi Decks Up For Dev Diwali
The ghats of Varanasi are all decked up for Dev Diwali, a festival that takes place 15 days after Diwali. This year its being celebrated on 4 November.
The 87 ghats in Varanasi are adorned with diyas as devotees come to take part in the Ganga Mahotsav, a five-day long affair. As evening falls, the serene waters of the Ganga reflect the flickering lights, a stunning spectacle that draws tourists from around the world.
According to the shastras (an Indian text), this is the day when Lord Shiva defeated the Tripurasurs. To celebrate his triumph, the gods lit diyas. It is believed that on this day, all the gods descend from heaven to Shiv’s town Kaashi on the banks of the Ganges to celebrate Diwali.
Devotees take dips in the Ganga and donate to charity. Huge crowds of pilgrims come down the ghats for Ganga snaan on the morning of kaartik purnima. Millions of diyas light up the night, all the way from Ravidas ghat to the last edge of Rajghat, to pay homage to Maa Ganga.
The tradition of celebrating Dev Diwali is barely 25 years old, but today it is hard to imagine Varanasi without it. The festival plays a huge role in the city’s economy. There are about 600 hotels in Varanasi, of which 90 are five and seven star hotels. Come Dev Diwali, and all the hotels in the area are booked to full capacity on premium rates.
Tight security arrangements have also been made this year for the festival.
This is only festival in Varansi for which hotels are booked a year in advance. On this day, most boatmen earn within a few hours what would otherwise take them months. The bajda boats that can be rented out for about Rs 5,000 on usual days, can cost up to Rs 2,00,000 during this time.