Many people here refer to Varanasi as the city of ‘learning and burning’, with education and self-consiounesses being held in high esteem. As such aarti is performed in the evenings, as mentioned in a previous post, and at sunrise. The aarti is a Hindu worship or puja (ritual), involving the circulation of burning lamps before the river, representing an offering and also a purification – as aarti descends from the Sanskrit meaning of removing darkness.
During the ceremony each element of life; fire from the lamps, earth from the flowers, water as liquidity, a peacock fan as movement and air and a yak-tail fan as space are offered to Shiva. Hindu rituals are quite extravagant, and involve singing and chanting, as well as meditation and breathing – which are also central components of the faith.
Below are some pictures of the sunrise aarti at Assi Ghat in Varanasi, performed from around 5:30 to 7am – today was cloudy and there has been some stormy weather lately, so hopefully some better sunrise pictures to come.
It is interesting to witness the centrality that religion and spirituality have in everyday life here – and waters central role within it.