I had left the Mysteryhanging in the air in the previous blog titled HANGING BASKETS IN KASHI , this post is an attempt to shed light on an Enchanting Festival held ONLY in Kashi ( alias Varanasi) .
These lovely hanging baskets are raised and lowered by the means of a rope you see in the picture below. The baskets contain Oil lamps which are lit up , placed in the Basket and then raised up by the Ropes on the occasion of DEV DIWALI.
DEV DIWALI or the “Festival of Lightsof the Gods” is a celebration by the Gods who descend to the banks of The Ganges at Varanasi on a FULL MOON night exactly two weeks after DIWALI (much like CHRISTMAS) is celebrated by mere Mortals like us across India.
The Supermoon seen alongwith Prayer bells on the banks of The Ganges on Dev Diwali.
Thousands of Baskets containing Oil Lamps are suspended in Air whereas the entire length of the steps or ghats that line the Ganges at Varanasi are lit up with millions of tiny terracotta lamps.
The hands of the lady clad in traditional clothes are soaked in Ghee ( oil) which fuels the Cotton Wicks.
It is a fascinating sight to see many miles of these Ghats or Steps, Lit up by traditional Oil lamps ( no electricity is used), have a look at a tiny section of the Ghats in the following picture.
Picture was taken from a Boat on the Ganges.
Enchanting and Beautiful Ancient traditions followed for thousands of Years in Kashi as the people emulate the Gods in Lighting up the Skies.
The mind wanders and has no boundaries and the posts seem to be moving with my thoughts from one place to another, in free abandon.
Yet I am not crazy as Enchanting memories link the posts which I share with you.
Spotted this group of Ducks at the Oldest Ghat of Ancient Kashi on the banks of the Holy Ganges.
Harishchandra Ghat is one of the two auspicious locations at Varanasi where cremations take place to date in the quest for freedom from the Life cycle of Birth & Death.
Obviously the Ducks in the picture below are unaware of this as they saunter along the banks of the Ganges River at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. ( reading earlier blogs titled BLISS IN KASHI , INVOLUNTARY DIP in KASHI etc would help you pick up the threads and coonect to the location)
This Group Reflects on what step to take next as the river seems Vast and the other Shore is Miles away.
“Clean & Pure Ganga” is inscribed in Hindi on the boat below.
I took these pictures while I walked back from Assi Ghat to Dharbhanga Ghat after my INVOLUNTARY DIP ( do read this blog so titled ) in the Ganges.
This Group decides to SunBathe instead of Swim even while the fifth member of the Group is testing the waters down below.
You can see the Duck on the extreme right turn his head and look at the fifth duck of this group who is down below and not visible in the picture.
The Featured Image reflects the anxiety of two of the Ducks as they look below at their companion who has parted ways.
Were it not for the INVOLUNTARY DIP and my clothes which were drenched I would perhaps not have walked back and thus missed this Enchanting Group of Ducks at the Harishchandra Ghat in Kashi.
The Ancient city of Kashi, the oldest living city of the World has a dark underbelly as well. ( trust you have read and seen the previous posts BLISS IN KASHI etc to know where this city is located etc.)
Kashi is the Holy city of Lord Shiva who is depicted with the King of the King Cobras wrapped around his neck.
I believe is from this depiction that Snakes and in particular the King Cobra ( do read a blog from the past titled THE KING & I) is revered as they are believed to possess many magical properties.
Snakes are captured, kept in terracotta pots and displayed on beds of Uncooked Rice so that the faithful who throng this Holy City shower money on them in the belief the Ruling deity of Kashi Lord Shiva will be pleased.
While the Kings is cuddled up in the pot another species is displayed in the picture below . Some money can be seen in the photograph as well, along with the toes of the cross-legged trapper.
Am no expert on Reptiles and Snakes in particular but I think this is a juvenile Python.
It is Illegal in India to capture and rear any animal from the Wild under the Wild Life Act of 1972, yet I have seen this unethical and cruel practice go unchecked across the country.
The pictures were taken near the most prominent location in Varanasi, THE DASHWAMEDH GHAT where millions throng daily to witness the Ganga Aarti.
I hope that someone who can end this malpractice, reads this post on Enchanted Forests and takes appropriate action.
Alas, till then the KING and his people will continue to be oppressed by the likes of Mr. BLUE NAILS ( do see the featured image) and be their bread winners.
Having been derailed by a wonderful documentary on the Miracle Spice Turmeric which resulted in a post tilted RED GINGER, am back on track as we explore the ancient city of KASHI.
It was the Night of a relatively unknown Festival called “DEV DIWALI” and the Moon was exceptionally bright as well.
The Picture below is of a brightly illuminated boat locally called “Jal Pari” which translates to “River Fairy”.
As the Holy waters of the River Ganges gently caressed the “Jal Pari” ,the Full Moon turned out in a Fiery Hue of Red.
Diwali or the Festival of Lights is much like Christmas ,in many a way ,and always celebrated on a Pitch dark Night when the moon cannot be seen.
Then how is it then this night of “DEV DIWALI” the moon shines so bright in Kashi ?( do check on previous blogs titled BLISS IN KASHI, BIRDS VIEW IN KASHI and INVOLUNTARY DIP IN KASHI)
It is the 14th of Novemeber 2016 and it is not only a Full Moon Night but a night of the SUPERMOON when the moon is 14% brighter than other nights as the Moon is significantly closer to the Earth.
Is it a mere coincidence then that Legends written thousands of years ago claim it is the Night that Gods descend to Earth at Kashi this night to celebrate “DEV DIWALI” ? ( watch out for more on this Unique Festival celebrated annually in Varanasi)
DEV in Hindi incidentally means God.
Blessed by the Full Moon, the “Jal Pari” gently floats on the cool waters and simply Goes with the Flow as the Gods celebrate Diwali in Kashi.
The Brijrama Palace is one of the finest buildings along the banks of the Holy River Ganges at Kashi ( Benaras or Varanasi).
The picture above and those that follow were taken at daybreak from the Terrace of this Ancient Palace which as you can see gives a wonderful overview of the City and the River Ganges.
Previous blogs titled BLISS IN KASHI, DAYBREAK IN KASHI & INVOLUNTARYDIP IN KASHI would help you connect the dots.
A wonderful capture as the Rock Pigeon tilts his head while perched on his bath tub as if viewing the hustle bustle of people on the River banks below through the Ancient ramparts of the Brijrama Palace.
The All Marble Bath Tub is filled with the Holy waters of The River Ganges and covered with auspicious Marigold petals.
The Royal Rock Pigeon (English), Kabootar ( Hindi) ,Columba livia ( scientific name) seems to be in a State of Bliss, what say you?
Iron chains keep Curious Visitors Off the Edge and provide the Pigeons some privacy as well.
What an Enchanting Morning to sip a Cup of Hot Tea after a cold dip in the River and watch the Pigeons bathing in absolute luxury along with the Rising Sun.
BLISS IN KASHI & DAYBREAK IN KASHI ( two previous blogs you need to check out to get a sense of continuity) gave you a peep into the fascinating city of Varanasi,Uttar Pradesh,India.
As can be expected Sunrise follows Daybreak at Kashi, however these pictures were taken at another location ,the Assi Ghat or the northern extremity of numerous ghats that mark Varanasi.
Sunrise is considered extremely auspicious and many line up the banks of the revered river The Ganges and offer salutations to the Ganges and the Rising Sun.
It is only at the Assi Ghats that The ” Ganga Aarti” ( morning prayers to the ganges) is held daily in the morning following by a live music performance.
It was really early at 0430 hours on this winter morning when I forced myself out of bed to take a boat ride so as to reach the venue by 0530 when the Ganga Aarti at Assi Ghat commences.
In the process of attempting to reach in time I had to change boats in the midst of the river.
Well it was my undoing or my blessing ( depends on how you see it) that I landed between the boats into the River along with my camera, which was strung on my shoulder, while I was attempting to switch boats mid river .( remember the proverb?)
A dip into the Ganges is considered Holy and supposed to wipe out all the Sins of the Past. The morning hours are considered especially auspicious and are thus called ” Brahma Mahurat” ( the time of the Supreme Creator) .
Must have been the result of good “Karma”as you see these Enchanting Pictures of the Sunrise taken after my involuntary dip ( or plunge) , verifying that both the camera and cameraman are intact.
Mythology states that Kashi ( alias Benaras or Varanasi) is the Pivot or Crux of the Universe.Believe it or not it sure is a beehive of activity at daybreak.
A bustling city located on the banks of the revered and Holy river The Ganges in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, India is abuzz with activity even at 5 a.m. (0500 hours) on a nippy and foggy winter morning in November.
The night is yet to shed its cloak and the lights are still shimmering yet the Boats are full as people traverse the Holy River.
A view from the ramparts of the beautiful and ancient Brijrama Hotel located on the River banks at the Darbhanga Ghat in Varanasi .
The Clouds are the first to hint at daybreak as they transform into gentle shades of Orange.
The number of boats on the river during the wee hours indicate that it is a busy time on the River Ganges though the sun is yet to rise.
Can you spot the solitary light in the distant Horizon in the picture below ??
It is Daybreak at Kashi and time for a Hot Cup of Tea as well.
I have never seen any city so busy in the early hours, it is faith that draws millions to Varanasi to take a Holy Dip in the River Ganges.
Do observe all the pictures were taken from the balcony of the historical Brijrama Palace and thus I had a lovely Royal overview of the River bank or “Ghats”( stepped river bank) as they are called in India.
The first blog on this series on Kashi was titled BLISS IN KASHI, reading the post will help you connect the threads as we explore the Enchanting Wonder of this religious city.