Festivals are some of the best excuses to plan for a vacay. They just add on to the joy and thrill to the trip and make it so much better. India being a diverse country, there are many festivals that are celebrated here. And when we talk about festivals talking about holy cities is unavoidable. Coming to the topic, we have Varanasi as our basis today. Varanasi is one of the holiest places. The pious city is home to many temples, ghats and many other religious places. The wonderful places that you will witness in Varanasi will stay etched in your heart forever. Varanasi has a lot of beautiful temples that will bring you an inch closer to divinity but it is the popular Varanasi festivals that will make you lose yourself in the vibe.
14 Top Festivals In Varanasi
We have made you a list of some of the famous festivals in Varanasi that will totally blow your mind, touch your soul and offer a divine experience that you will never forget.
1. Ganga Mahotsav
Ganga Mahotsav is one of the most popular Varanasi festivals. This is believed among the people of Varanasi that the holy river Ganga provides nourishment and life to the entire civilization that have made their homes around the pious river Ganges. Each year, the famous Ganges festival or Ganga Mahotsav happens here in Varanasi to pay tribute to the river that gives life. This festival lasts for a period of 5 days. You will be amazed at the cultural and traditional vibrancy that this place exhibits. You will fall in love with the fun and colorful dance and music that you can find here. There are many popular names that are linked to the celebration which has performances by Ustad Bismillah Khan, Vilayat Khan, Bal Murli Krishna, etc. This place is visited by people to fall in love with the amaze that is formed by the combination of music that touches the soul as well as with a lot of spirituality.
Dates: Ganga Mahotsav occurs in the month of October/ November and begins 15 days before Diwali.
2. Buddha Mahotsav
This beautiful destination of Sarnath is very close to the holy city of Varanasi, this is the place where it is said that Lord Buddha gave his very first sermon to the selective few disciples at Sarnath, this is the place where Lord Buddha came after attaining enlightenment and therefore Buddha Mahotsav is one of the biggest Varanasi festivals and is celebrated with great pomp and show. At this same place, a huge fair is held and the other items that were used by the holy Buddha himself are out for display as well as for worship for the pilgrims and Buddhists who keep on visiting this place from various places on the occasion of Buddha Mahotsav. You will find the region of Sarnath being decorated with various colors as well as with earthen lamps that breathe life into the whole place. Buddha Mahotsava is one grand festival that you can celebrate while being in Varanasi.
Dates: This festival is celebrated on full moon in the month of late April or May.
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3. Maha Shivratri
Mahashivratri is the festival that is celebrated in the entire country with a lot of enthusiasm, you will find that this is the time when millions of devotees gather in temples to worship the supreme Lord Shiva as it is one of the grand Varanasi festivals. This is a festival that celebrates the wedding of Lord Shiva to Goddess Parvati. This is the festival when people from various places visit Varanasi. This festival is celebrated every year on the 14th day of the month of Phalgun, this is also the day which marks the end of the winter season. It is said that during this time, Lord Shiva fulfill every wish that is made with sincerity. The procession for this festival begins late in the evening, gets continued for the entire night and finishes early in the morning the next day.
Dates:This festival is celebrated every year on the 14th day in the month of Phalgun.
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Varanasi is a beautiful place Holi is actually one of the most important Varanasi festivals. It is celebrated with a lot of pomp and show. This place will make you fall in love with the theme of Holi. You will find various people celebrating Holi by throwing colors in the air happily. In every year with the rest of India, in the month of Phalgun, Varanasi also celebrated Holi in a wonderful manner that you will never want to forget in your entire life.
Dates: Holi is celebrated in the month of Phalgun.
5. Dev Deepawali
This is a festival that is celebrated on the 15th day of the Hindu month of Kartik. This is the day on the full moon day, this is the festival which is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm because this is the day that is meant to honor the holy river Ganga. Before the festival days, the local folks begin scrubbing and cleaning the ghats as well as their homes to make it festival ready which might give you an idea of why this is one of the important festivals in Varanasi. It is a popular belief that the goddesses and gods descends down to the earthly sphere from the heavenly sphere to celebrate with the masses. This is the day where a lot of diyas are placed carefully all around the ghats and steps and one can find cultural and traditional performances; like singing and dancing, recitals and Kushti etc, that happens for the crowds.
Dates: This festival happens on the fifth day of Hindu month of Kartik.
6. Makar Sankranti
This is the day which is celebrated as Pongal and in the southern regions. This is the day which is celebrated as kite festival in Gujarat and in some parts this day is celebrated as Lohri. Makar Sankranti is one of the biggest Varanasi festivals and the sight of the city is truly the one to fall in love with. The entire city is immersed in devotion and spiritualism. This festival happens on the 14th of January every year and people celebrate this occasion by making some great sweet delicacies and other food associated with this festival.
Dates: This festival has a fixed date unlike many other festivals in the country. This one happens on 14th January.
Annakut is one of the holy and fun Varanasi festivals which happens on the 4th day of Diwali. This day is also considered to be the first day of the New Year as per the Vikram Samvat calendar. It is also precisely the reason where the rituals that take place at this time are intricately linked to various rituals of Diwali. The Annakut day is the day when the devotees offer their gratitude for Krishna. The puja rituals are then followed during Govardhan puja are performed also during this time.
Dates: This festival is celebrated on the fourth day of Diwali.
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8. Akshaya Tritiya
Akshaya Tritiya is a wonderful time to visit Varanasi. The experience that one can get here is truly incredible. The festival is also known as Akha Teej and is one of the grand Varanasi festivals. This festival is very special and beautifully reflects the connection that Akha Teej shares with the holy river Ganga. Akshaya Tritiya is the day which is believed to be the day when goddess Ganga had descended from the heavenly to the earthly sphere. Another famous belief which is associated to this day is that Kuber who is known as the custodian of wealth also earned his name and position on this very day.
Dates: Akshaya Tritya happens in the month of Baisakh.
9. Panch Kosi Parikrama
One of the holiest Varanasi festivals, Panch Kosi is considered to be one of the most important and vital festivals for the women of India. As per a mythological Hindu account, this Panch Kosi Parikrama will only be completed once the devotee passes through five holy places of Kardmeshwar, Shivpur, Rameshwar, Bhimchandi and Kapildhara. This important and ancient parikrama starts from Manikarnika ghat and ends up there only. Women participating in this procession wake up early in the morning and commence their parikrama after taking a refreshing bath in this holy river Ganga. They are not allowed to eat during the parikrama and can only do so after completing the parikrama.
10. Chhath Puja
Chhath Puja is a Hindu Varanasi festival that is celebrated every year with a lot of enthusiasm. This is the festival that has a diverse history where people worship the setting sun. This festival is really one of its kind, this festival is dedicated to the sun or the god of energy. This is the day where people thank the sun lord by fasting for the whole day as well as offer their prayer rituals to the sun lord as they stand in water. People also offer Prasad in the form of fruits, sugarcane, dry fruits etc and also offer Arghya to other people (this is water combined with spices of dry fruits) that is offered to the rising sun. As per the Hinduism, worshipping the sun is said to cure a lot of diseases like leprosy etc.
Dates: The four day festival happens in the month of October/ November.
11. Bharat Milap
This is the event where one would find people celebrating with a lot of enthusiasm as it is one of the biggest Varanasi festivals. This festival usually happens between the months of October and November, being an important Part of the Ramlila festival, this is the time that marks the moment when after spending 14 years banished Lord Ram had returned to Ayodhya and united with his brother Bharat. This festival celebrates victory over the evil forces. Dussehra and Bharat Milap are two of the most amazing and fun-filled festivals that happen in Varanasi. Another important events of Bharat Milap is the presence of Kashi Naresh with his royal belongings where he gets adorned in a ceremonial dress.
Dates: This festival happens during October- November.
This is the festival that happens in Chetganj and is a beautiful event which is drawn from the great Hindu epic of Ramayana. This festival marks the time when Lakshman had slashed Surapnakha’s nose. This is one of the most important festivals in Varanasi and falls during mid-October and is a celebration of the victory of truth over evil. There are various people who get involved in the fair practice and begin their preparations way before the beginning of the festival. One would find the parades and scenes being displayed with a lot of vigour and get exhibited all along the narrow alleyways and streets of Varanasi.
Dates: This festival happens in mid October.
13. Hanuman Jayanti
Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Hanuman who in the Vanara Avatar is the Rudra avatar of Lord Shiva. This is one of the holy Varanasi festivals that are celebrated every year during the Shukla Paksha of Chaitra Purnima in the month of Chaitra. It is on this special occasion where you will find all the Devotees and pilgrims of Lord Hanuman who would be seen making their way to their respective Hanuman temples. You will find many devotees apply Tilak on their foreheads and do all the puja rituals that are dedicated to the lord. This is the significant Hindu festival that is a celebration of power and pure energy as represented by Lord Hanuman.
Dates: This festival happens on the 15th day of Shukla paksha.
Dhanteras is another one of the popular Varanasi festivals and happens on the very first day where this Diwali festival is celebrated, this is a lifelong festival that happens on the Trayodasi day of Krishna Paksha and is also famous by the name of Dhanvantari Trayodashi. This festival generally happens between the months of October and November. Dhanteras actually means wealth and this is the day where the devotees and pilgrims will be seen offering prayers to goddess Lakshmi to have a life that is not just wealthy but also prosperous. It is said that on this day, you worship Goddess with a lot of sincerity, you will have good monetary value for the entire year. So, in case, you are planning to visit Varanasi, Dhanteras is a great time to visit as this is the time when you would see Dhanteras pooja happening in there with a lot of zeal, enthusiasm, pomp and show.
Dates: This festival happens around October, November.
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So, these are some of the popular Varanasi festivals that you can enjoy while being in Varanasi to have a beautiful time celebrating the beautiful festivals. It is these celebrations that will get you closer to the divinity and give you an experience that you will remember for a lifetime. The festivals that you can experience in Varanasi are some of the experiences that will totally transform your life and make you get closer to the supreme higher being as well as enjoy the vibrant, splendid cultural aspect of Varanasi that is totally mesmerizing. So what are you waiting for? Plan a visit to Varanasi and start packing your bags right away!
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Frequently Asked Questions About Varanasi Festivals
What are the best places to visit in Varanasi?
Manikarnika Ghat, Assi Ghat, Dashwamedha Ghat etc are the best places to visit in Varanasi.
What is famous in Varanasi?
Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the country and this place is famous for its streets, food, temples, ghats etc. The ganga aarti at Varanasi is really special.
What to wear in Varanasi?
Varanasi is a holy place and is famous for bringing the true taste of the Indian culture. So, we would advise you to dress modestly.
What is famous for shopping in Varanasi?
Varanasi is famous for the silk sarees which makes people from all over the world visit this place.
Is Varanasi safe for tourists?
Varanasi is famous for its simple lifestyle and is a safe city to be in.
How long does Ganga Mahotsav last in Varanasi?
Ganga Mahotsav lasts for five days in Varanasi.
What are the five places that a devotee must pass through to complete Panch Koshi Yatra?
Panch Kosi Parikrama will only be completed once the devotee passes through five holy places of Kardmeshwar, Shivpur, Rameshwar, Bhimchandi and Kapildhara.
How is Nakkatayya celebrated in Varanasi?
Nakkatayya is celebrated with a lot of pomp and show in Varanasi. One would find the parades and scenes being displayed with a lot of vigour and get exhibited all along the narrow alleyways and streets of Varanasi.