Varanasi and the Ganges River

One of the highligts of the trip was Varanasi and the Ganges River, a place sacred to the Hindu.  Originally known as Kashi, Varanasi is believed to be the “original ground” created by Lord Shiva.  Pilgrims to Varanasi perform religious rites and bathe in the Ganges, absolving themselves of their sins. Every devout Hindu hopes to visit at least once and bathe in the waters.  They also take the holy waters home with them for use in rituals.  Along the river are ghats, or stone steps, where both pilgrims and locals bathe, do laundry, and cremate the dead.  To die on the banks of the Ganges and be cremated there is to end the cycle of birth and death and to be granted instant salvation.

Along the banks of the Ganges River, a Hindu fire ceremony, known as the Aarti, is performed every evening and at sunrise. It is to honor the holy  Ganga River and the gods and deities.  The bell ringing wards off evil spirits, while seven gifts of light, each getting progressively brighter, are part of the ceremony.  

© Phyllis Nethercot 2016