India: Varanasi – Aarti Fire Ceremony
Every night hundreds of boats big and small and thousands of people congregate at a couple of the largest ghats in Varanasi to witness and participate in the Aarti Ceremony. Hindu priests perform an elaborate series of chants and wave moves with large copper lanterns as crowds move and sing and incense smoke rises everywhere. The fire is offered to Shiva and the Ganges to purify yourself of the sins and assure smooth reincarnation. Or something like that! Crowds are huge, chants and singing are loud, the fire show is elaborate and bright, smoke drifts over the semi-naked worshippers’ heads, and all the Varanasi temples in the back change their color in pulsating fluorescent hues of violet, yellow, red, and blue – this all sounds like an electronic music euro-festival, only missing the heavy synth line and the bass drop….