Photographer's Note

The Ganga Aarti (Aarti is a Hindu ritual of worship in which light from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) or camphor is offered to one or more deities. Aartis also refer to the songs sung in praise of the deity, when offering of lamps is being offered) at Dasaswamedh ghat, close to Kashi Vishwanath Temple, is one of the prime attractions of Benaras (Varanasi). It starts just after sunset, with a group of young men dressed in Benarasi silk robes and saffron patta-bastra enacting synchronised mudras choreographing to the chantings, holding, incense sticks and lamps, beside the holy River Ganga (Ganges).

I understood that, pooled from Hindu gurukul institutions in Varanasi these young men (disciples) have been imparted the Nidhi s motto to preserve the purity, sanctity, and divinity of Ganga, its ghats and Kanshi (Benaras), the oldest religious place in the world besides Jerusalem. The choreography is excellent and worth seeing. But to me it also feels artificial in a devotional context. But the ceremony is definitely worth watching!

If you want an unobstructed view of the ceremony, there are two options. I tried both of them (on two different days) –

a) Be early and get a ringside seat. This I did the first evening & this picture is from that day.
b) The other option is to hire a boat and witness the aarti from mid-river, as I did the second day. But the problem then is, you need to have long lenses and very very steady hands as setting up a tripod on a swirling boat is never an easy task.

In either case I had to jack up the ISO to 1600.

Not much post processing here, some contrast & sharpening before resizing!

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Additional Photos by Angshuman Chatterjee (Angshu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7852 W: 324 N: 16061] (56760)
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