Varanasi is one of those places where sheer chaos takes the form of a grand orchestrated concert. Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world and the rituals performed here go back almost 3500 years. One of the most important rituals in modern day Varanasi is the ceremony for world peace that is carried along the banks of the Ganges.
Every night, seven Brahmins dressed in white array in a line along the steps of the Main Ghats that descend towards the Ganga. To accompany them, the deafening sound of mantras shouted from loudspeakers that crash and mesh with the clapping of uncoordinated crowds; bells out of tune overwhelm the melodies and melt them into a sole, noisy whisper to the gods. They stand before the sacred river, the Great Mother, and in Her honour they swirl jugs of incense, wrapped by white fumes that devour the intensity of the light at dusk. Challenging the peacefulness of the evening, they raise in its sky towers of candles and alive flames oozing out from the mouths of brass cobras. They shower the Ghats with the colours of flowers, to greet the river that for one more day has given life and welcome death. The river responds with the dance of countless candles in terracotta cups, abandoned to its currents with a wish in the heart. Mother Ganga silently welcomes them and, without any promise, makes them twirl in the night.