Mythology reins the city and there are many religious places and institutions and places of worship throughout the city where people visit everyday, especially in the mornings and the evenings. On closer look, one can still find the primitive worship cults that are still in practice in the city. The religiosity of the region is evident from the fact that Buddha, Jain Tirthankars, several Shaiva and Vaishnava saints, Kabir and Tulsi were either born here or were associated with the place in a significant way and have spent a long time here.
People of Benaras are known for being the exponents of literature, music, Vedic philosophy, arts, crafts and architecture. Socio-economic aspects of the city are highly influenced by the Ganges and on most of the Hindu festivals people can be seen using the bathing Ghats (river fronts) even before daybreak as an important part of their rituals. In Varanasi, the atmosphere is relaxed in general and we can see people chewing the famous 'paan' and chatting in a laid-back manner. That does not keep Varanasi behind, as is evident from the growing modern industries in the city. Varanasi is also the most ancient seat of education in India (Sarva Vidya ki Rajdhani) and Benaras Hindu University is still famous throughout the world for its scholars. The city is also a seat for Sanskrit and one can still see the Guru-Shishya tradition being followed here at certain places.
Several social and religious customs co-exist in the city and the caste system is still prevalent here. People wear 'Gamcha' (a cotton towel), as they go bathing in Ganga and drink Thandai (a coolant with milk as its base), which have become a part of the cultural identity of traditional ways of Varanasi. Music, drama and entertainment have found a place in the lives of the people. Its dance traditions and vocal and instrumental music is highly developed and one can catch the glimpses of folk drama in the 'Ramlila' organized before Dussehra. Traditional games and sports include 'Akharas', where wrestling or 'kushti' competitions are organized. Foreign tourists love to ride horse-driven 'Ekkas' and cycle rickshaws that are still in use here. Indian medical science of Ayurveda, yoga and meditation are cherished here since ages.