World ? Asia ? India

Nag Nathaiya

The lights of Varanasi, reflected on the Ganges at dawn. Photo by Serena Davies
photo Serena Davies
Nov 2009 (annual)
The highlight of the Nag Nathaiya festival, held on the Tulsi Ghat in the holy city of Varanasi, is the Krishan Leela ceremony, a 400-year-old tradition involving the re-enactment of a famous episode in the life of Lord Krishna.
According to the Mahabharata, the young Krishna once lost a ball he was playing with in the river Ganga. On diving in to find it he was confronted by the terrifying Kalia, a king cobra. However, the expected fight never ensued as Kalia recognised the superiority of Krishna and offered him a lift to the surface. As Krishna emerged, his worried friends were delighted to see him dancing on Kalia's hood.

Thousands gather on the surrounding ghats to watch the story recreated on the water.
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