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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Diwali in Varanasi

I have been lucky to visit this ageless city on the banks of the holy Ganges many times as my son studies there now .
read my previous post on the city .

This post came about after I saw a documentary in the Discovery channel on the Diwali period in Varanasi yesterdy .
Diwali is universally celebrated in India mostly for two to three days .
in Varanasi it goes on for more than a month.
The Ramnagar ( place of the Varanasi Royal family ) Ramleela is more of an interactive long term Enacting of the great epic Ramayana as written by Tulsidas .
Mostly enacted by adolescent boys who are called Swarups or those who become the character when they act it and are venerated by the faithful for it ,the audition of these boys is itself an event and even the king takes part in it ,generally certain roles traditionally belongs to certain families .
With the formal procession of the king the event unfolds ,it has several stagesand venues  and is over an extended time limit ,the audience moves with the performers to different venues and the whole mass is in itself a part of the big play .
Ramnagar is on one side of the river Ganges ,the Ram and Lakshman and Sita Swarups move from places called Ayodhya down into the forests and later cross the river to the place really called Lanka where the Benaras Hindu university is situated and where the effigy of the villain Ravan is destroyed as the climax and with good winning over evil the leela folds itself to renew its act after an year

Every single day the crowds follow the drama with copies of Ramayana called Manas  in thier arms and reading it meticulously ,the priests who read it out for them are called Vyasa
the people literally  live their roles .
this certainly is an amazing theater event unparalleled .

Diwali the festival of lights is celebrated in every temple ,house offices of the city where Lakshmi the Godess of prosperity and wealth is welcomed ,the festival of lights light up the city of the soul in resplendent glitter as its populace indulge in their sweets and savories .

The Dev Diwali is another event in Varanasi a few days after Diwali itself and as its name suggests it is for the Dewas or the Gods ,truly a treat for the Gods the Ganges is lit up with thousands of floating diyas as its Ghats shine bright by the lighted wicks of many earthen lamps and the Aaarathi on its banks shine into its waters a feast for the Dewas themselves .

The Nag niyatha or nag Diwali has Krishna leela to fall upon ,
not very far from Varanasi is Mathura where Lord Krishna had lived his childhood ,enacting as Lord Krishna an adolescent Krishna swaroop climbs a kadhamba tree planted on the banks of the Ganges in front of a very large crowd and falls straight into the river to kill the mythical poisonous snake kalindhi and dances on it saving people from its venomous nature ,

the felling of the tree in the dawn and its transportation to the ghats and erection there supervised by the high priest of Sankat mochan temple Shri Mishraji  is an event by itself and the crowd adores the child Krishna swaroop as he is carried on the shoulders of his devotees .
 Another Diwali ends with the fading of the earthen lamps and the stillness of the Ganges flows for ever !!

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