An evening in Varanasi isn’t complete without a trip on the Ganges to see the Hindu aarti ceremony (the waving of candles and singing – not an official description).
Your boat (easily arranged from your hotel or anywhere along the river) docks near others to watch from the water, with people clambering around for better views.
I was amazed at the sheer amount of people. In my rickety boat was an Indian family and an older lady from South America who was doubting the boats stability – constantly yet amusingly.
The family bought candles from a passing man,
After they dropped their candles in the water, the grandmother threw water from the Ganges onto us in what I presume was a blessing. The lady from South America was horrified, having earlier showed me pictures of what was assumed to be a large amount of poop floating in the river.
After the ceremony, we travelled up the river a little.
We past the constantly burning ghat of Makikarnika (no photos allowed – would you take pictures at a funeral?) and round the corner.
We then docked back near the hotel, where a man was completing his own aarti.
When he’d finished, he threw a little more water over the South American lady who made the mistake of sitting very near him. I had to smile to myself at her ‘I need two showers, now’ overreaction.
The next night, I viewed the ceremony from land.
If you want a good space to view it, get there early. It’s as packed as the boats – but at least I was closer enough to hear the sound.
More information about Varanasi can be found here. Smiley face.