Dev Deepawali, celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu month Kartika, is a spectacular festival observed in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. This festival, also known as the ‘Diwali of the Gods,’ falls in November or December, about fifteen days after the traditional Diwali. It’s a time when the ghats of the Ganges River in Varanasi are illuminated with more than a million earthen lamps, creating a mesmerizing sight.
The festival marks the victory of Lord Shiva over the demon Tripurasur and is also observed as Tripura Purnima. Devotees take a holy dip in the Ganges on Kartik Purnima and light earthen lamps in the evening. The entire city of Varanasi comes alive with vibrant lights, cultural programs, and spiritual fervor, making it a unique and unforgettable experience.
History of Dev Deepawali
The tradition of celebrating Dev Deepawali in Varanasi started in 1991, initiated by Pandit Kishori Raman Dubey. It commemorates the victory of Lord Shiva over the demon Tripurasur, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil. This festival aligns with the Hindu belief that on this day, the gods descend to Earth to bathe in the Ganges.
Dev Deepawali is not just a religious event but also a cultural spectacle. The ghats, from Ravidas Ghat to Rajghat, are adorned with lamps, and the city engages in various rituals and festivities. The lighting of lamps on the ghats was a practice that began to honor the Ganges and its presiding goddess, Ganga, and has since turned into a grand annual celebration attracting thousands of pilgrims and tourists.
Why is Dev Deepawali Important?
- Cultural Significance: Dev Deepawali is a profound expression of Indian culture and spirituality. The festival showcases the rich traditions and religious practices of Hinduism, particularly in the holy city of Varanasi.
- Symbol of Unity: This festival brings together people from diverse backgrounds in a shared celebration, promoting unity and communal harmony. It’s a time when differences are set aside, and everyone joins in the festivities.
- Spiritual Rejuvenation: For many, Dev Deepawali is a time for spiritual renewal. The act of lighting lamps and taking a dip in the Ganges is believed to purify the soul and bring one closer to the divine.
- Tourism and Economy: The festival significantly boosts local tourism, attracting visitors from across the globe. This influx aids the local economy, benefiting small businesses and artisans.
- Environmental Awareness: The use of earthen lamps during the festival promotes environmental consciousness, encouraging the use of sustainable and eco-friendly materials.
- Artistic Expression: Dev Deepawali is a platform for various forms of artistic expression, including music, dance, and visual arts. The ghats turn into stages for cultural performances, showcasing India’s rich artistic heritage.
- Historical Relevance: The festival is a living tradition that has been celebrated for decades, offering insights into the historical and religious practices of the region.
How to Observe Dev Deepawali?
- Visit Varanasi: The best way to experience Dev Deepawali is by visiting Varanasi. Witnessing the illuminated ghats and participating in the rituals firsthand offers an unparalleled experience.
- Participate in Ganga Aarti: Attend the Ganga Aarti, a spectacular ritual performed on the ghats. It’s a powerful and moving experience, filled with chanting, music, and the glow of lamps.
- Light Earthen Lamps: Engage in the tradition of lighting earthen lamps. This act symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and is central to the festival’s spirit.
- Take a Holy Dip: Participating in the Kartik Snan, or holy dip in the Ganges, is believed to have purifying effects, washing away sins and bringing blessings.
- Enjoy Cultural Programs: Varanasi hosts various cultural events during this time. Enjoy classical music performances, dance shows, and art exhibitions that showcase the city’s rich cultural heritage.
- Boat Ride on the Ganges: Take a boat ride along the river to see the ghats lit up with lamps. This provides a unique perspective on the festivities and is a popular activity among visitors.
- Explore Local Cuisine: Varanasi’s street food is renowned. Sampling local delicacies adds another layer to the Dev Deepawali experience.
Interesting Facts about Dev Deepawali
- Dev Deepawali’s tradition began in 1991, making it a relatively new festival with a rapidly growing popularity.
- Over a million earthen lamps are lit on the ghats of Varanasi during Dev Deepawali, creating a breathtaking sight. 1
- The festival attracts tourists from all over the world, making it a global event that showcases Indian culture and spirituality. 2
- Dev Deepawali coincides with the Ganga Mahotsav, a five-day festival celebrating Varanasi’s cultural heritage.
- The festival also honors martyrs. Wreaths are placed at Amar Jawan Jyoti at Dashashwamedh Ghat as a mark of respect.
Dev Deepawali FAQs
What is the significance of Dev Deepawali?
Dev Deepawali marks the victory of Lord Shiva over the demon Tripurasur and is believed to be the day when gods descend to Earth to bathe in the Ganges.
How is Dev Deepawali different from Diwali?
While Diwali is a pan-Indian festival celebrated by lighting lamps and fireworks, Dev Deepawali is specific to Varanasi and involves lighting lamps on the ghats of the Ganges.
When is Dev Deepawali celebrated?
It is celebrated on the full moon day (Kartik Purnima) of the Hindu month Kartika, usually in November or December.
Can tourists participate in Dev Deepawali celebrations?
Yes, tourists are welcome to participate in the festivities, including lighting lamps, attending cultural programs, and taking boat rides on the Ganges.
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