November 08 : Dev Deepawali is celebrated mainly in Varanasi after a fortnight from Diwali. Though it is also a festival of lights and diyas, Dev Diwali is different from Diwali and is observed to celebrate Lord Shiva's victory over the demon Tripurasura. Hence, it is also known as Tripurotsav.
Lord Shiva killed demon Tripurasura on a full moon day. The Gods expressed their happiness by donating a diya to Kashi (Varanasi), the city of Shiva. Since then, the tradition of celebrating Dev Diwali in Varanasi is continuing, which is commonly known as Diwali of Gods.
Devotees take bath in holy river as part of Kartik Snan rituals
This day being an auspicious one, devotees take bath in river Ganga, which is known as Kartik Snan, and offer diyas to the river goddess in the evening. The festival is also known as Tripura Purnima Snan. The sight of a million lamps floating on the river and placed on the stairs of the ghats is a breathtaking vision.
People believe that on this auspicious day Gods come down to the ghats of the old city of Varanasi to bathe in the Ganga. To welcome the Gods, the river, its ghats and even the houses are decorated with millions of diyas.
During this festival, the city becomes alive with activities. People decorate their houses with flowers and diyas, make rangolis and take part in cultural programmes.
People from across the globe visit Varanasi to observe the famous Ganga aarti performed on the banks of the river. The festival starts on Prabodhini Ekadashi, the 11th lunar day of the month of Kartika and concludes on Kartik Poornima. The last day of the festival is the most important day. For years, this famous aarti is performed by 21 young Brahmin priests and 24 young women. They chant hymns along with rhythmic drum beating and conch shells are blown, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Varanasi.
Women celebrate Dev Deepawali
The colourful festival is also marked as a martyr's day when the city of Varanasi offers wreaths at Amar Jawan Jyoti at Dashashwamedh Ghat and also at Rajendra Prasad Ghat. The Army, Navy and Air force perform the traditional last post, followed by a closing ceremony. The forces light akash deep (sky lamp) for the martyrs.
This year Dev Diwali will be celebrated on November 12, when three lakh lamps will be illuminated at Manakameshwar Ghat and 5100 lamps at Kudiyaghat. Lakhs of earthern diyas are distributed among the devotees. The budget of cultural programmes on Dev Diwali has been increased to Rs 5 lakh this year.