Indira S. Somani, journalist, PhD

Dev Deepavali in Varanasi

Dev Deepavali was celebrated on Nov. 10th.  This is the 15th day after Diwali, a full moon day, also known as Kartik Purnima.  I came to Varanasi to experience this festival, where the people of Varanasi pay tribute to the Ganges river, the holy river of India.  This is my first time in Varanasi, but I have wanted to come here many times, as it is supposed to be the holiest (or at least one of the holiest) city in India.  The Ganges river flows from south to north.  As most rivers flow from north to south or east to west, this is the only river in India that flows from south to north.   In the early morning, thousands of people bathed in the Ganges.  I bathed as well, by bathed I mean I went under water five times.  This act of expiation means one has washed away their sins and will return home with a pure soul.  One can only I hope :).  Most of the people were locals, but others from across India came for this act of worship.  In the evening, thousands of diyas were lit across the ghats.  When I say thousands, one person quoted me 10,000 crores of diyas are now used to light all the ghats for Dev Deepavali.  A diya is a small tear-drop shaped clay bowl, filled with oil with a wick.  Once it is lit, it burns for several hours.  These decorations as well as others, like marigold garlands, are mostly funded with donations from all the residents of Varanasi

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