Dev Deepavali is celebrated on the occasion of
Kartik Poornima when the Ghats of Varanasi come alive with thousands of
Diyas (earthen lamps). Dev Deepavali, celebrated on the fifteenth day of
, is a tribute to river Ganga by the people of Varanasi. Dev
Deepavali is held on the full moon day in the month of Kartik (also
known as Kartik Purnima) and is observed with great fanfare and feasts.
It is believed that on the day of Dev Deepavali, the Gods descend on
Earth. It is interesting to note that the Kartik Purnima festival also
coincides with the Jain light festival and Guru Nanak Jayanti.
To mark the occasion and also to showcase the cultural heritage of
Varanasi, the Uttar Pradesh Tourism department organizes a four-day
Ganga Mahotsav around this period. A large number of Hindu devotees
start assembling from the day of the Prabodhini Ekadasi (the eleventh
day of the fortnight) itself. The official celebration is usually held
on the Dasaswamedh Ghat. On the occasion of the Ganga Mahotsava, reputed
artists and performers from all over the country come and perform,
making the celebrations more eventful.
On the eve of Kartik Purnima, the number of pilgrims begins to increase
manifolds and most of the pilgrims camp by the riverside. In the
evening, pilgrims and local people decorate the entire riverbank with
tiny earthen lamps ('Diya'). These lamps are lit as a mark of welcome to
the Gods as they descend on earth. The little sparks of fire flicker
elegantly and is a wonderful sight to watch. The 'Ganga-Aarti' is an
important event in the evening. Almost all Ghats organize their own
ceremony. Huge lamps are set ablaze and the priest holds forth the lamp
as the multitude chants the hymns.