Kashi's riverfront turns Juhu beach on New Year Day

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Varanasi, Jan 1 (UNI) The spiritual city woke up on the first morning of 2007 to resonance of bells in temples thronged by devotees who followed it up with new year revellery on the sandy banks of the Ganga river.

After late night parties soaked in music, wine and spicy delicacies, the religious city did not sleep late on New Year Day but woke up early despite a foggy first morning of 2007.

Prominent temples, including world famous Kashi Vishwanath temple, Sankatmochan temple, Durga temple, Kal Bhairo temple and Bada Ganesh temples were crammed with devout right from early morning.

The devotees bearing the treasured 'Chandan' on forehead as blessings from priests plunged into the boundless pool of new year revellery taking to the sandy riverbank opposite the magnificent ghats dotting the sacred river.

The sandy riverbank that regularly renders serenity to reclusive couples was today invaded by the new year reveller families of Kashi, indulging in all sorts of pleasures spanning from cooking 'bati-chokha' on makeshift ovens to playing cricket, relishing kite-flying and even enjoying rides on horses provided by residents of neighbouring Katesar village.

''This is the Banarasi style to celebrate the new year much like the Mumbaikars do it on their Juhu beach,'' said 78-year-old Pannalal, a veteran wrestler from one of the city 'akharas' who has been celebrating New Year Day on the banks across the Ganga river for the last three decades.

The feeling was echoed by six decades younger Smita, a student from the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), who alongwith friends shelved at the eleventh hour plans to enjoy the day at one of the waterfalls dotting the neighbouring Mirzapur and Chandauli districts.

''Every one who is young is raring to go for adventurous new year beginning at the waterfalls, but the signature clime of Kashi can only be enjoyed at riverfront,'' maintained Smita while enjoying every bit of Bryan Adams 'Heavan' on her walkman.

The riverfront which remained alive till late this evening gave a brisk business to the horse breeders, small time vendors, kite-sellers and most importantly the boatmen. ''After Dev Deepawali falling in November, it is the New Year Day which fetches us brisk business,'' said Channu powering his boat carrying a group of US and Australian tourists who abandoned their plans to travel to Goa on New Year eve owing to a security alert sounded by Israeli government.


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