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Ganga Mahotsav - Fairs and Festivals in India

Ganga Mahotsav is a cultural festival that is specific to Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. The festival celebrates the various facets of this holy river. The Ganges is a symbol of religious purity and is one of the five important rivers of India. Ganga Mahotsav is celebrated over a 5 day period on the banks of the river Ganga and also promotes the city of Varanasi as the cultural capital of India.

The festival is a platform to promote the culture and tradition of Varanasi which is known for its dance and music, arts, silk, carpet industries and handicrafts. The festival is like a cultural program promoting all forms of Indian dance and music.

Ganges has always been the not only the lifeline of India but also the felicitator and nourishment of the Indian Civilization. The river Ganges, though, considered a thing of reverence by the Hindus has in the course of history defined the psyche of the Indian society as a whole, irrespective of religion. It not only nourishes the population that lives by its kingdom but also give them a sense of separate identity and belonging. To mark this contribution of River Ganges, an annual festival is organized that has been christened 'Ganga Mahotsava'.

Traditions And Celebrations
The mystic ghats of the Ganges in Varanasi and other cities attract thousands of people to it. On the day of Ganga Mahotsav devotees walk to the banks of the Ganges in the early hours of the morning to take a dip in the river while chanting prayers. Both men and women carry out this ritual. Most people especially the sadhus then perform the “Surya Namaskar”. Thereafter at dusk amidst the chanting of Vedic mantras, diyas or earthen lamps are lit and placed on lotus leaves and floated in the water to welcome the Gods. The floating diyas make the river glow with a soft orange hue against the black dark night sky.The Ganga Mahotsav helps in promoting Indian music and dance in a big way. Some of India’s famous personalities including Ustad Bismillah Khan, Girija Devi, Birju Maharaj, Amjad Ali Khan, Bal Murli Krishnan and Zakir Hussain have performed in Varanasi during the festival.Festival also includes activities like boat races and display of marital arts.

The banks of the River Ganges at Varanasi transform during the Ganga Mahotsava as thousands of Hindu pilgrims dip themselves and their oil lamps into the sacred waters.

The festival is one of the most spectacular that take place along the ghats (steps down to the river) during the year. It celebrates (among other things) the timeless glory of the River Ganges, which provides a living for millions who grow rice on its neighbouring plains. Several thousand Hindu pilgrims come to the water's edge during the day - each one carrying an oil lamp which they float on the surface.

 

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