Continued from Varanasi Day 1 Part 1.
Despite seeing the dog and the corpse, we all agreed that this boat ride had been very nice. It was so peaceful on the water, and since we had a row boat, there was no overpowering motor noise to assault our senses. We are out on the water with no touts to disturb us, and no shit to step on. It’s rare to be able to observe India but yet still be left at peace.
JF, YR, and I decided that we would like to watch ganga aarti, a Hindu religious ceremony at the main ghat. That didn’t start until 7, and it’s only around 5:30. We decided to head back to my guest house just a couple of minutes walk away and have some chai tea on the roof top restaurant to wait it out.
Me, JF, and YR. Eh! Actually, they are from central Canada, and I could barely tell that they were Canadians. They said that the Canadians with the really strong accidents are the ones from the Northeast. Learned something new. Eh! The girls also had spots of colors in their hairs from Holi. I wonder how long, if ever, it’ll take for those colours to wash out.
We sat down, and ordered our food. The girls mentioned how they had eaten a lot of street food, and how this was pretty reasonably priced.
After we started eating, the restaurant starts to get packed again. This is the second seating I guess. We also saw a lot of women eating here and out on the streets of Varanasi. This is very unusual. I would say that it was 50/50 inside the restaurant. Are they all here as family for a pilgrimage and that’s why all the females are out?
There were multiple platforms with performers doing their rituals. Then there were these bells that had long strings and guys who would constantly ring the bells. Music and announcements also blasted from speakers.
PA system blasting music and announcements. I thought that the PA system took away from ganga aarti experience. Obviously, it’s a tourist trap, but the PA system was unexpected since everything else in Varanasi is so archaic.
To the right of the man with the sweater over his back is one of the bell ringer. He got tired, so he had to use his other hand to support his bell ringing arm. Eventually, later on, he had to pass off the duty to another bell ringer.
Many of the tourists hire a boat at this hour and watch ganga aarti from the river. All the boat operators claimed that this was the best view. We also saw the show from the steps by river side and it looks about the same.
The three of us decided to pitch in for one. It was 30 INR. I have no idea what the significance of it is, but everyone else was doing it. I look at these beautiful candles on the river and think how it’s just a bunch of tourists buying it and a bunch of old ladies making money from selling it.
As we watched our candle barely drifting away, all of a sudden, a whole horde of people came down with these cups of colored water and started pouring it into the river. Our candle was capsized by this…Well, that was that.
This is the sign right above one of the ganga aarti ceremony. I have no idea what it means other than that it feels very commercialized. There were two ganga aarti ceremonies going on at the same time next to each other. I wonder if they were competitors?
As we said our goodbye, the Canadians and I made plans to meet up tomorrow to share a ride to Assi ghat, which is at the very South end of the major Varanasi ghats.
To be continued in Varanasi Day 2.