Ganga Mahotsav and Dev Deepawali
Ganga Mahotsav is observed in Varanasi on the banks of river Ganga for five days. The ghats of the mighty Ganges, which are revered as holy, are lit up with several hundred earthen lamps. This is a 5-day long festival that begins on Prabodhani Ekadashi (11 days after Diwali) and spans till the end of Karthik Purnima. The celebration concludes on Dev Deepawali (Deepavali of Gods) on Kartik Purnima every year.
In 2021 Ganga Mahotsav will be celebrated on 18th November. All Ghats in the city will be decorated with Diyas (earthen lamps ) and flowers in the water of the Ganges to welcome the Gods who are believed to descend on Earth.
Legend of Ganga Mahotsav
The Ganges is said to have its origins in the tresses of Lord Shiva and in Varanasi, it expands to the mighty river that we know of. In the Hindu religion, Dev Deepavali is celebrated in the belief that Gods descend on the Earth on this grand occasion. There is another myth of celebrating Dev Deepavali that, on this day, demon Tripurasur was killed by Lord Shiva, so it is named Dev Deepavali and celebrated as a victory day of the Gods over the demon on the Kartik Purnima.
It is also believed that Lord Vishnu also took the Matsya avatar on Kartik Purnima. It is believed that when Lord Vishnu wakes up from his sleep, the deities perform special worship of Goddess Lakshmi along with Lord Vishnu. Whereas before this, Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped with Ganapati on Kartik Amavasya. It is also believed that Lord Krishna had attained self-realization on the day of Kartik Purnima.
It is believed that the beginning of celebrating Dev Deepawali in Varanasi in this way was started in 1986 through the then Kashi King Dr. Vibhuti Narayan Singh. After this gradually it became famous as Maha Mahotsav.
Kartik Purnima is not only important for the Sanatani people, but this day is also very special for the followers of Sikhism because on this day Sikh Guru Nanak Devji was also born on this day.
The Diwali of Gods, as its name suggests coincides with the last day of Ganga Mahotsav. It is celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu calendar. Dev Deepawali is also called Tripurari Purnima because in ancient times Lord Shiva killed a demon named Tripurasur on this date. Dev Deepawali is not only related to Lord Shiva but also to Lord Vishnu. Special worship of Tulsi Ji and Lord Shaligram is also done on the day of Dev Deepawali.
Ganga Aarti is performed in the evening on each Ghat. Alongside Aarti, every city and street of India is decorated with colorful lights and small diyas. If you are fond of Indian Classical music and dance you must visit nearby Ghats where the five-day festival ‘Ganga Mahotsav’ is organized. Many renowned singers, artists, musicians give their performances. Special Diyas in the name of Gods is lit in cane baskets, tied on long bamboos standing tall. The sky is filled with beautiful and eye-catching firecrackers. Come and be blessed with the feeling of getting submerged in the power of spirituality with humans and Gods celebrating a festival on the same piece of land!
Many visitors and devotees visit India during Dev Diwali to witness the colorful scene everywhere. Following the Rituals, people remember God and Goddess by visiting a nearby temple. They also seek blessings from the almighty.
People also visit a fair and observe the cultural programs, activities, classical music, martial arts, and much more. The main ritual of this day is the Kartik Snan or Ganga Snan which is taking a holy dip bath in the river Ganga to purify of body and soul and to acquire the Kama, Artha, Dharma, and Moksha (salvation).
Importance of Dev Deepawali
Most sacred of the rivers in India, the Ganges is personified as the Goddess Ganges. Varanasi, popularly known as Benaras or Kashi, is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world and is situated on the banks of river Ganga- the Ganges. Varanasi is the only place where Diwali is celebrated not once but twice. It is believed that on the day of Dev Deepavali God descends from Heaven to take bath in the holy river Ganga. All the ghats of the river Ganga are lit with lakhs of earthen lamps amidst chanting of Vedic hymns.
The religious significance of Dev Deepawali lies in the belief that on this day Gods and Goddesses come down on the earth to take a holy dip in River Ganges. The complete ghat of the holy river is bedecked with millions of tiny earthen lamps (diyas) in the honor of the Gods and Goddesses and River Ganges. This ritual of lighting up earthen lamps was initiated in the year 1985 at the Panchganga Ghat.
It is believed that on this very day, Lord Shiva became victorious on the demon named Tripurasur, and hence this festival is also known as Tripura Utsav. Other festivals that fall on Dev Diwali are Guru Nanak Jayanti & Jain light festival.
Apart from the religious significance, this day is also associated with a patriotic significance. On this day, the entire brave soldier in Indian forces, who died fighting for India, are remembered and paid tribute to. Wreaths are offered as a tribute to the martyrs in Varanasi. This event is organized on a grand scale by Ganga Seva Nidhi. Patriotic songs are sung and the event is ended by the last post by three Indian Armed Forces.