By the time the sun sets in Varanasi all roads lead to ghats once again.
This time it’s for the most happening event in Varanasi’s night life… the Ganga aarti on Dashashvamedh Ghat.
Crowds gather. A colourful, excited, eclectic mixture of locals, domestic and foreign tourists.
The steps leading to the ghat become the ‘stands’ while on the last step stand a row of young priests in bright yellow silk kutas. In carefully orchestrated moves they swing into the rituals of the aarti.
The Aarti is an offering of thanks to the river. The most scared according to the Hindus. The ceremony honours the 5 elements Akash (space), Vayu (air), Tej (light), Jal (water) and Prithvi (earth).
Tourism has perhaps diluted the purity of ritual and sentiment. On the other hand it’s lead to greater cleanliness around the ghats and economic welbeing for the city dwellers who live off them.
The health and well being of this beautiful river is unfortunately still under grave threat.
Photography tip: Avoid using the flash to capture the true ambiance of the ceremony.
Best Buy Souvenir: Copper pots containing the holy Ganga jal, Colourful kurtas printed with traditional vedic chants, beautifully delicate Benarasi sarees