Spread over five days, the Ganga Mahotsav is one of the biggest cultural festivals held in Varanasi. The festival centers on the holy occasion of the Deep Deepavali – the full moon night in the month of Karthik (according to the Hindu calendar). Every evening, the ghats come alive with classical music and dance performances. The festival showcases Varanasi as the cultural capital of India.
It is believed that on the night of Dev Deepavali, the gods themselves descend on to earth to take bath in the holy river Ganga. To celebrate this celestial event, millions of tiny diyas are lit to the chanting of Vedic shlokas and the ghats come alive with teeming lights. These are then let loose to float with the mighty Ganga. Devotees take a cleaning dip in the waters as part of the Surya Namaskar ritual.
The Ganga Mahotsav is an important fixture in the world of classical music. The festival regularly sees performances by such famous exponents like Ustad Bismillah Khan, Girija Devi, Bhimsen Joshi, Birju Maharaj, Amjad Ali Khan, Vilayat Ali Khan, Shujat Khan and Zakir Hussain. Regarded as the oldest city in the world, Varanasi has many delights in store for the intrepid traveler. Just take a stroll down the numerous serpentine galis of Benaras and it will unfold its old world charm for you. Read more on Varanasi.