Every evening in Varanasi Hindu priests perform the holy Aarti ceremony on the Dashashwamedh ghat. Aarti is an ancient ritual honoring the Lord Shiva, one of the three most important deities in the Hindu religion. The ceremony involves light (usually flame) and is performed facing the holy Ganga, or Ganges River. Normally the best vantage point is from a boat on the Ganges, but the night we attended, the president of Germany was visiting and he chose to view the ceremony from the river, so we, with the hundreds (thousands?) of other tourists and pilgrims, experienced it from the banks of the river. They say India is an assault on all the senses; the Aarti ritual is most certainly that. The music, light, colors and incense created a mystical and unforgettable experience.
This gentleman was celebrating the arrival of the German president. @corradiniphoto
The cow was enjoying the ceremony, too!
It's amazing that they do this every evening, and even more amazing that so many thousands of pilgrims come to take part in it every evening!