Ganga Mahotsav is observed annually in Varanasi after Diwali to celebrate the Holy River Ganges, which is the source of life and nourishment to the entire nation. It is celebrated for a period of five days and is attended by tourists and pilgrims from world-over. It is a festival of cultural, traditional and spiritual vibrancy. This year, Ganga Mahotsav would be celebrated on 18th November 2021.
Origin, History and Significance of Ganga Mahotsav
The Ganges has been believed to be a sacred life source since time immemorial. According to Hindu mythology, a dip in the holy River can cleanse one’s body, mind and soul of all their sins. Ganga Mahotsav’s festivities are a five-day event to celebrate the Ganges. The last day of the festivities, Dev Deepavali is observed to welcome the Gods which are believed to descend to the Earth to bathe in the Holy River. Folklore has it that this was the day when they vanquished the demon Tripurasur and their presence can be felt in the waters. There are eighty ghats on the banks of the River and celebrations take place at each of them. The festival is now organised by the Tourism Department of the Uttar Pradesh State Government at Varanasi, (Banaras or Kashi). It is the age-old holy city of Hindus, existing since the pre-Buddhist era.
The Gangetic plains are one of the most fertile regions of the country, it is believed to be the life source to the nation, and the Ganga is thus revered, and its glory celebrated. The festival also celebrates the cultural, religious and traditional capital of India, i.e., Varanasi. It is the city of Hindu culture and way of life which has been preserved for ages.
When is Ganga Mahotsav Celebrated
Ganga Mahotsav is celebrated every year after Diwali, from the eleventh day of the month of Kartika, i.e., the Probodhani Ekadashi. The festivities are observed for five days, the last of which is the Dev Deepavali. It is a full moon night and is known as Kartika Purnima. Ganga Mahotsav 2021 is on November 18, 2021.
How is Ganga Mahotsav Celebrated and Where to Go
Ganga Mahotsav is a celebration of the Holy Ganges and the cultural heritage of the Hindu city of Varanasi. Numerous activities are organised:
- Crafts Fair - The National Craft Fair at Gandhi Shilp Bazaar takes place on the Chowka Ghat. It is a 10-day event where artisans from across the country gather and showcase their traditional handicrafts. One can get their hands on exquisite artefacts, souvenirs and memoirs of the festival.
- Races and Competitions - Traditional sports like country-boat racing, Indian-style wrestling, the Ganga Marathon, horse-cart races and kite flying are organised as open competitive tournaments.
- Cultural Exploration - The festival seeks to revive and celebrate the richness of Kashi’s heritage. There are classical and folk performances of vocal and instrumental music and dances. Famous artists like Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Chhanulal Misra and Girja Devi also perform.
- Spiritual Experience - A major highlight of the festival is the Ganga Aarti that takes place in the evenings at Dashashwamedh Ghat. In the mornings, tourists and pilgrims do Surya namaskars on the ghats and take dips in the Holy River to sanctify their body, mind and soul. There are also prominent temples in Varanasi like the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
- Dev Deepavali - The fifth day of the Mahotsav is very auspicious and is the celebration of Dev Deepavali. Thousands of tourists and pilgrims take a dip in the River, known as Kartika Snan to cleanse themselves of their sins. The ghats are adorned with thousands of lamps which also float on the River and elaborate rangolis. The festivities end with the bursting of fireworks.
The festivities of Ganga Mahotsav commence on the day of Probodhani Ekadashi on all the ghats that dot the banks of the Holy River, From Varuna Ghat to Assi Ghat. Varanasi has a well-developed network of air, rail and road travel and buses are the most convenient and cheap option. The most popular routes to Banaras offered by redBus are:
- Delhi to Banaras.
- Agra to Banaras.
- Lucknow to Banaras.
- Prayagraj to Banaras.
- Kanpur to Banaras.
Buses ply at numerous convenient timings throughout the day with a wide range of pick-up and dropping points to suit your convenience.
Ganga Mahotsav is a celebration of the sanctity and glory of the Ganges and the rich culture and traditions of Varanasi. You can be a part of Ganga Mahotsav 2021 with redBus by booking your tickets online on the website or on the redBus app. redBus offers secure payment options, details about bus routes, duration, seats to ensure your utmost comfort.
NOTE: In light of the recent Coronavirus pandemic, we at redBus would like to urge you to take all necessary precautions when you travel and follow every instruction provided by your local government. If you’re not planning on travelling, practice social distancing and stay indoors to help slow down the spread of COVID-19 or the Coronavirus disease and prevent it from spreading any further. Stay safe!