Mahashivarathri is one of the big festivals celebrated in Varanasi and we can view pilgrims rushing to Varanasi on this auspicious day to witness the ritual homage given to Lord Shiva.
Apart from the temples, ghats and Ganga River; Varanasi city has got beautiful culture and atmosphere with people around earning with the tradition of Paan Shops, Cycle Rickshaw, Traditional Puruas (kullad) cup Chai and Food Stalls, Chaat Bhandars, Banaras Sweet Shops, Lassi and Thandai Bars and very famous Banaras Silk Saree Shops. There are also some servicing small stall centers roadsides like massage parlour center and parlour for men. People of Varanasi like loud music and they are fast bike riders. Children and teenagers of the city like flying the kites. It is city concealed with maze of narrow ancient Gullies (Lanes, Streets), old buildings, and new transformations like small continental food shops and stalls of clothes, spices and many more. Since it is said that Lord Shiva has resided in Varanasi we get to see his Vahan (Vehicle) that is sacred Bulls and Cows all over the city wandering, littering and resting.
Varanasi’s breakfast plate is filled with Banarasi Kachori with Aloo Subzi and a plate of sweet-syrupy Jalebis. For lunch it is stomach full of Rotis, two Subzis, Flavoured Chawal, Gulab Jamoon and thick Lassi Dahi or Rabri and Malai for desert. There are variety of Banarasi Paan (betel leaves with variety of grated ingredients), which is a must try to taste which is usually eaten to freshen the mouth after having food. There is a famous Bollywood song made on Banaras Paan stared by the renowned Indian actor Mr. Amitabh Bachchan called “Khaike paan Banaraswala”. Evenings we see huge crowds front of Chaat Bhandars wanting to eat variety of chats like Tamatar chaat (tomato chaat), Papri chaat, Aloo Tikki, Paani Puri Ke Rakam, Rabri Jalebi, Khatta Meetha Chaat, Chuda Matter, Golgappa, Samosa Chaat, Palak Papdi chaat, Dahi Bhalle, Dahi Puri, Ghugni Chaat, Gulab Jamoon, Kulfi Faluda and many more which tastes very delicious.
We see a cluster of people dancing in colorful clothes for loud music followed by the groom on the decorated horse. A group of people leading the procession holding fancy, huge lights on their heads to brighten up the atmosphere. It’s a celebration ceremony from the groom side before they go to bride’s home or the wedding hall for the main wedding ceremony and it is called has Shaadi Baarat. The wedding takes place over night with many rituals and it ends at the banks of river Ganga after taking blessings from the river Goddess Ganga.
Birth of Indian Classical Music is traced back to Vedic period, which is originated from the atmospheric place Varanasi. Music is been considered as “The language of the gods”. Lord Shiva was evolved with the embracement of music and dance together. Varanasi is one of the peaceful places for the musicians to emerge with beautiful music. Tulsidas, Surdas, Raidas, Meera and Kabir are few of the musicians who contributed to devotional music, bhajans and made Varanasi a flourishing musical center. At the time of Bhakti Movement great saints like Chaitanya and Vallabhacharya brought admiration towards music in Varanasi. Accordingly the Indian Classical music brought unique and varies forms of styles in Musical singing like Dhrupad, Dhamar, Chaturang, Thumri, Dadra, Chaiti, bhairavi, Kajri, Sargam, Kirtan, Ramayan, Hori, Ragmala, Qauwali, Bhajan, Kathagayan and many more. Renowned instrumentalists like Pandit Ravi Shankar (famous sitar player and a Bharat Ratna Awardee), Pandit Vikash Maharaj and Ustad Bismillah Khan (Shehnai Maestro and a Bharat Ratna Awardee) all are sited from Varanasi.