GANGA AARTI, VARANASI (BENARES)

VARANASI, (BENARES), INDIA

The Ganga Aarti is an Aarti offering prayer to the Ganges river, Mother Ganga.  One is held every night at dusk at several ghats in Varanasi (Benares). (The ghats in Benares are a series of stone steps lining a bank of the Ganges for several miles.) Several young Hindu priests, pandits,perform this religious ritual or puja,raising or lowering incense sticks, scepters blowing smoke, ringing bells and blowing on conch shells, all in coordinated movements. The culmination of the Ganga Aarti involves the movement of special oil lamps, deepam, in lieu of the Aarti plate, with dozens of multi-tiered ghee lamps aflame. The young priest-pandits move these lit lamps up and down in a rhythmic fashion while chanting hymns to the river God, a fantastic and highly photogenic display of light, as seen here. See my blog and India gallery on my website, here, for more photos from my recent trip to India and from the Ganga Aarti and Benares, in particular.  

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LORD SHIVA, THE DESTROYER (OR TRANSFORMER)

Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

This is Lord Shiva, actually, Sundareshwar, a form of Shiva, one of the primary three deities in the “Great Hindu Trinity”: Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver and Shiva, the destroyer or transformer. Along with Parvati, Shiva’s consort, these are the most important Gods in the Hindu pantheon.  

This representation of Shiva appears on one of the towers or gopuram of the Meenakshi Temple, a historic Hindu temple located in the temple city of MaduraiTamil NaduIndia. The Temple is dedicated to Meenakshi, a form of Parvati, and Sundareshwar.  See my growing, new India gallery on my website for more photographs from my recent India trip and elsewhere.

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