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Fairs and festivals of Varanasi

The enchanting city of Varanasi is considered one of the holiest cities in the country. The fairs and festivals of Varanasi are a great attraction for the people year round. These fairs and festivities of Varanasi help you to explore the culture of India with a holistic perspective. The festivals are celebrated in high spirits and people throng the city at this time. Foreigners are seen in huge numbers during these times.

The fairs and festivals of Varanasi assume great importance. Each festival has its own significance. The Bharat Milap festival attracts almost a million tourists every year. This festival is dedicated to Lord Rama. The quintessence of this festival is rooted in our mythological traditions. It is celebrated to commemorate the meeting of Lord Rama- the chief protagonist of Ramayana- with his devoted brother Bharat, following Rama's return from exile to the city of Ayodha, after a gap of 14 long years. It signifies the deep love between the brothers, and the triumph of the good over evil. The festival is being celebrated sometime in October or November, a day before the festivities of Dusshera commence.

The Mahashivaratri is another much-loved festival, which must be included among the important fairs and festivals of Varanasi. This festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva and witnesses a gala procession from the Mahamrityunjaya Temple to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. On this occasion, all the Shiva temples in the city are beautifully decorated and a huge number of devotees take part in the revelries. Lord Shiva is offered milk, and devotional songs and bhajans, and various chants and hymns are recited in his devotion. All these create a very sacred and divine atmosphere.

The Buddha Purnima festival, held at Sarnath, is also very famous. It is celebrated at Kushinagar, located near Varanasi (the death place of Buddha) and other parts of the state. This festival, as the name suggests, is dedicated to Gautam Budhha. As he was born on a full moon day, it is called Buddha Purnima. In fact, Lord Buddha was born and died on a full moon day. Thus, the festival denotes his birth and as well as the death anniversary. On this day, a fair is arranged where the relics of Buddha are brought out in a procession. This is a much-awaited festival for all the Buddhists, and also non Buddhists.

The fairs and festivals of Varanasi are incomplete without the fervour of the traditional Ramleela. The Ramleela becomes host to thousands of enthusiastic tourists and devotees. The Ramleela is a sort of a pantomime or acting out of the story of Lord Rama. The power-packed performances leave you spellbound and people practise round the year for it.

Other fairs and festivals of Varanasi include the Dev Deepavali, which can be described as the high point of Diwali - the festival of lights. During Dev Deepavali, the holy ghats in the city can be seen getting flooded with earthen lamps. It is celebrated on the fifteenth day of Diwali, on the occasion of Karthik Purnima, and is a tribute to the river Ganga by the people of Varanasi. Feasts and joy mark this occasion.

The Hanuman Jayanti is another festival, which is celebrated with great pomp and grandeur, to commemorate the birth of the mythical character of Hanuman. The monkey-God Hanuman is seen as an unwavering devotee of Lord Rama, and also a symbol of strength and energy. The Sankat Mochan Temple hosts this five-day long festival. A great blend of music and other cultural activities can be seen here during these five days, which becomes a treat for religious tourists. The Nag Nathaiya and the Nakkatayya are other festivals celebrated in Varanasi, which are dedicated to Lord Krishna and Rama respectively.

The fairs and festivals of Varanasi are very enjoyable and are a celebration of the divine being. The pure and chaste ambience during the festivities exudes a different aura to the city. Do visit Varanasi at the time of the fairs and festivals to experience an altogether different experience.

Last Updated On: 2011/07/16

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