Not many people have heard of the Dev Deepavali. In fact the majority of Indians have never heard or aware of it either. Dev Deepavali, celebrated on the fifteenth day of Diwali, is a tribute to river Ganga by the people of Varanasi. These few lines by Mark Twain say it all: "Banaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together". Dev Deepavali celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Varanasi.
There is an old tradition of celebrating Dev Deepavali with pump and show in Varanasi. Dev Diwali is observed on Kartik Purnima and popularly celebrated along the Ganga River banks in Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh). There are many legends around Dev Deepavali. On Dev Deepavali (full moon day) it is said that God descends from heaven to bathe in the Ganga. It is also believed that Lord Vishnu returned to Vaikunta, his abode on this day after the Vamana incarnation and visiting King Bali. Another legend has it that Lord Shiva killed the three demons, who were killing the Devas and humans, and destroyed the three cities built by them on this day.
Kartik Snan and Deepdaan are the main rituals performed during Dev Deepawali. Early morning, devotees take a holy dip in the river while chanting mantras and bowing to the sun-God. In the evening under the full moon reflecting in the holy waters, they perform deepostav. On deepostav occasion amidst chanting of Vedic hymns people light diyas (earthen lamps) and burst firecrackers in welcome. These lamps are lit as a mark of welcome to the Gods as they descend on earth. The little sparks of fire flicker elegantly and is a wonderful sight to watch.
The 'Ganga-Aarti' is an important event in the evening. Almost all Ghats organize their own ceremony. During this time, the Ghats of Varanasi come alive with thousands of Diyas (earthen lamps). Huge lamps are set ablaze and the priest holds forth the lamp as the multitude chants the hymns. Every ghat along the Ganga is lighted up on Dev Deepavali in readiness for the Divine.
The event is a must for all tourists who want to get a glimpse of the rich culture of Varanasi and India
|One of the decorated ghats of Varanasi|
|Varanasi during Dev Deepawali|
|Ganga Aarti during Dev Deepavali|