Dev Deepavali is held on the full moon day also known as Kartik Purnima, which is falling on November 22 this year. This festival on the ghats of Varanasi is observed with great fanfare and feasts. It is believed that on the day of Dev Deepavali, the Gods descend on Earth. In the evening, pilgrims and local people decorate the entire riverbank from Assi to Rajghat with tiny earthen lamps known as diyas. These lamps are lit as a mark of welcome to the Gods as they descend on earth.
It’s a mesmerising view from the boat when those little sparks of fire flicker elegantly in the night sky. It is accompanied by the quintessential ‘Ganga-Aarti’ in the evening. What’s interesting is that almost all ghats organize their own ceremony. Huge lamps are set ablaze and held forth by the priest who also chant the auspicious hymns, and are joined in by the multitude of people around.
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Dev Deepavali is held fifteen days after Diwali every year. It can’t be emphasised enough how beautifully the ghats of Varanasi along the Ganges glow in the flames of these thousands of tiny oil lamps, thousands more of which are launched on the river each night. It’s a befitting spectacle for the so called ‘City of Light’. Not only the ghats but also all the temples of Varanasi are lit with millions of diyas during this time. It’s best to enjoy this festival by travelling to Varanasi between 20 – 24 November.
When in Varanasi during this time make sure to proceed to Dashashwamedh Ghat and take a boat ride on the sacred river Ganges to see the cremation ghat in all its glory. It is still home to one of the world’s oldest and most important tradition. If time permits you can also visit Sarnath, the place where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon.