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Varanasi Festivals

Varanasi Festivals

Introduction
Read Varanasi festivals & ways to celebrate them. Holy city Varanasi is also known as "the city of lights" and "the city of learning" and considered as one of the oldest cities in the world. Ancient Hindu scriptures also mention the city and that is the reason it's considered a sacred city and an important pilgrimage destination for Hindus. Jericho in Palestine also shares the title of being the oldest existing city in the world. Varanasi was a trade center two thousand years ago and various commodities were produced and sold here such as muslin and silk fabrics, ivory works, sculptures and perfumes. According to Chinese traveller Xuanzang, the city was spread over around five km along the bank of the river Ganges. Western travelers mostly visit the city in search of Niravana and spiritual peace. Varanasi has a lot of attractions and experiences to offer the visitors, including the boat ride at sunrise, the high banks of the ancient "Ghats", the unending chain of shrines, temple and hermitages. Religious fervor is present all around, which is unique for the foreigners. Overseas travelers revel in the bliss of spiritual experiences like deliverance from sins, meditation and mystical music. According to Hindu religious beliefs, dying in Benaras ensures freedom from the cycle of birth and death, so many devotees throng the city when they think their final hour has come.

Dev Deepavali
Dev Deepavali, or Diwali (October/November, always at new moon) - The five day festival of lights. The special decorations, ceremonies at the temples, and aarti ceremony at the ghats are spectacular.

Maha Shivratri
Maha Shivaratri (February) - A Hindu festival celebrating Lord Shiva, who lived in Varanasi according to Hindu mythology. On this day, the streets of Varanasi are filled with pilgrims and parades dedicated to Shiva occur all day. Entrance to temples will require long queue and the temples will be extremely crowded. The day of Shivaratri is also the last day of the Dhrupad Mela, a festival of "Hindustani" (a form of Indian classical music) that goes on night and day for about 72 hours.

Chhath Pooja
Chhath Pooja (October/November) - The four day festival for the sun god, Dala aka Surya. Rituals include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prashad (prayer offerings) and aragh (alcohol) to the setting and rising sun.

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