Ganga or River Ganges is the holy river of India for Hindus. It flows through many important religious cities like Varanasi, Haridwar and Rishikesh of North India. People provide fire offering to the river in the form of floating lamp made with candles and flower. Thousands of such lamps will be let to float on the river and it would look like millions of stars on the river. It is an important religious ceremony and an exciting photographic spot.
Where is ceremony happens ?
The ceremony happens on the banks of the River Ganges. The ceremony happens at Dashashwamedh Ghat which is located close to Kashi Vishwanath Temple. This ceremony is very different from that of the ceremonies conducted at Haridwar and Rishikesh.
Some prefer to stay on roof-top restaurants to watch the ceremony without the hustle of the crowd. You can also watch the ceremony from the top of Ganga Sewa Nidhi Office, which organizes this ceremony.
When it Perform?
No matter how the climate is, this ceremony happens during every sunset. The ceremony would start by 6:00 to 7:00 PM in the evening and takes place for around 45 minutes. If you want to watch the ceremony from close quarters, reach the spot by 5:00 PM. Crowd is guaranteed. During summer season, the sunset will happen around 7 PM and during winter, the sunsets at 6 PM.
What to See?
What will you be seeing during this ceremony?A group of young pandits wearing saffron robes will conduct the ritual. Conch shells will be blown and incense sticks would be lit in numerous numbers. Large lamps are lit and they would look brighter in the evening time. The lamps will be held by the pandits as they chant hymns.
You can watch synchronized waving of milti-tired oil lamps, which creates huge fire. Other interesting lamps to find during this ceremony are snake hood lamp, karpoor lamp and others. Peacock feathers and Yak tail fans are also waved in a synced motion. By the end of the ceremony, a priest would pour a bowl of water into the river, which ends the ceremony. Later, people let small lamps decorated with flowers to float on the river.
Best time to visit
Though the Ganga aarti happens throughout the year, the ceremony is conducted in a grand manner during Kartik Purnima, which stretches from October to November.
How to reach?
No transportation is available to reach the Ghat. It has to be reached on foot. If you are staying far away, you can avail bus services till Varanasi Main Bus Stand. From the bus stand, the Ghat is about five km away. From the bus stand, you can hire an auto to Godaulia. Beyond Godaulia, there is no transportation service. It is just 800 m away from the Ghat. Everyone has to walk this distance through a crowded market.
There is no entrance fee for the ceremony. Some prefer to watch the ceremony from the river, on a boat. The boat ride during the aarti would cost more than any other time of the day. During the ceremony, the priest brings a plate on which people offer donations for the ceremony. It is up to you to offer money on the plate.