To witness the festival of Dev Deepawali in all its spectacular glory, the best option is to visit the ghats of the river Ganga in Varanasi. This year, the festival is being celebrated on November 18 and 19.
In Varanasi, more than a million earthen oil lamps are lit up on the ghats. People from all over the nation come here to do ‘Deep Daan’. The glittering full moon in the river Ganga surrounded by the flames of thousands of earthen lamps is mesmerizing. Music, laser shows, dance, cultural events, aarti, chanting priests, drums and so much more take place on this day at the ghats of Ganga. The festival is thought to be holy; nearly 100,000 pilgrims make their way to Varanasi over this period to celebrate, pray and take a holy dip in the sacred Ganga.
Dev Deepawali- the Diwali of gods, is celebrated on Kartik Purnima, 15 days after the celebration of Diwali. There are several stories behind this celebration. A popular one says the Gods descend upon the ghats of the river Ganga on this day to celebrate the victory of Lord Shiva over the demon Tripurasura. Since then, Lord Shiva is also known as Tripurari. The ghats are lit up with thousands of lamps to welcome the divine and celebrate the victory of good over evil. Though this festival is celebrated in some parts of Gujrat, Mathura, and Maharashtra, the Dev Deepawali of Varanasi is unmatchable.
The best thing about this festival is a lesson of self-realisation and the manifestation of one’s divinity. A deeper reading of the mythological story suggests that the demon Tripurasura is nothing but the human mind, which is ruled by the three characteristics of nature that are Satoguna, Rajoguna and Tamoguna. These three types of nature, if untamed, lead a human mind towards desire, anger, greed, or jealousy, which one may relate to the devil cities established by evil princes. Just like the destruction of these cities was possible only by Lord Shiva, the ever-wandering human mind — which is constantly distracted by the three gunas of nature — can only be brought to peace by true knowledge. This is nothing but self-realisation or, in other words, knowledge of the divine. Without true knowledge, the human mind will be driven by the ego, which will prevent the seeker to move ahead on the path of self-realisation because it will be constantly attracted towards the illusion (maya) called sansar — our worldly desires. Hence, Dev Deepawali is another reminder to all the seekers of spirituality to be aware of the demons within our own minds. The Shiva (knowledge) is very much within our own selves to win over these demons. So, this year, light the lamp of knowledge within to destroy the darkness of ignorance.