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Snapshot – Shiva, Snakes and Spirituality, Varanasi

So there we were, sitting on the ghats, on chairs (most pple were sitting on the floor) and in prime position for the arti ceremony thanks to our hosts at #UPTWC16. It was a full moon night, the ceremony was underway, conch shells had been blown, lamps were lit, bells were ringing and devotional songs were being sung. Pilgrims were captivated by the spiritualism, tourists by the spectacle.

All of a sudden there was a commotion in the crowd. Several people moved rather quickly before the inevitable jostling started and an rapt audience formed around where the incident was taking place. One rather officious looking chap piled into the melee and came out with the cause of the disruption to this most important and holy of ceremonies and,, to be fair, the reason most tourists visit Varanasi.

A snake had somehow made its way onto the ghat, right where the ceremony was taking place.

It is true to say that Varanasi is the home of Lord Shiva, who is both the creator and the destroyer. Snakes are part of the symbolism associated with Shiva. Now my Indian friends, my question to you is, “Was this somehow auspicious, or am I just searching for some sort of deep rooted Indian mysticism where there is none”?

#Uttarpradeshtourism #Lonelyplanetmagazineindia


Philippa is founder of Indian Experiences and author of Escape to India

Contact: Philippa@indianexperiences.com

Whatsapp: +447966025330

With over 25 years of experience in selling truly tailored tours to these destinations, my team and I would be delighted to help.


  • Abhishek Behl

    November 30, 2019 at 7:09 am

    Nice one Philippa. Like the pictures especially the chai stall. Now to the question to the Indian friends – I feel it’s just coincidental that the snake must have ended put there – lack of space and coexisting with humans just make them end up around crowded areas. Also lord shiva is certainly the destroyer of all evil and the creator is Lord Brahma. Certainly mysticism and actually there is none sadly. Keep the posts coming 😊

  • amitp7777

    November 30, 2019 at 8:17 am

    Very cool pics!

    I’ve lived in Varanasi for four years during my college years and random experiences can indeed trigger deep thoughts there. (Or was it due to all the grass I smoked up and too much 70’s classic rock?)

    I’m not much into religion but some of the traditional prayer songs (called bhajan in hindi) did have deep spiritual aspects to them.

    One of them was about faith – “maano toh mein Ganga maa hoon, na maano toh behta paani”
    Loose translation – If you believe in me then I’m mother Ganges, if not then just flowing water.

    iirc this one even made it into a cheesy bollywood movie back in the day.

    Poor snake though – he must have been shocked to see so many humans reacting to him. 🙂


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