Ganga Mahotsav is a five day event celebrated on the banks of the river Ganges in Varanasi. This festival is celebrated to promote Varanasi as the cultural capital of India and the Ganges as India’s lifeline. Ganga has always been an integral part of India and is considered as a thing of reverence by the Hindus. Ganga gives a sense of belonging to the people of India especially those living near the banks.
Rituals and Celebrations
Ganga Mahotsav is organized on Dev Deepavali or the full moon day in the Hindu month of Kartik. It is believed that on the day of Dev Deepavali God descends from Heaven to take a bath in the Ganges. The banks of the river Ganga are lit with earthen lamps or diyas amidst chanting of Vedic hymns. The ghats of Ganga wear a mystic look as hundreds of people walk to take bathe in the wee hours of the holy day. Men and women take a holy dip in the river while chanting mantras and doing Surya namaskar or bowing to the sun-God.
The festival also gives importance to dance and music as various cultural programmes promoting Indian dance and music are organized. Some of the exponents of Indian music have performed in this festival. They include stalwarts like Ustad Bismillah Khan, Pundit Chhanulal Misra, Girija Devi, Bal Murli Krishnan, Bhimsen Joshi, Birju Maharaj, Amjad Ali Khan, Vilayat Khan, Zila Khan, Sujat Khan and Zakir Hussein who added zest to this festival. The event is a must for all tourists to get a glimpse of the culture of Varanasi.