Varanasi, Oct.16 : People in Varanasi celebrate Akashdeep festival in remembrance of martyrs by lighting earthen lamps on the banks of holy River Ganga on the beginning of auspicious Kartik month as per Hindu almanac.
The ritual is believed to have existed even centuries ago when it was held to pay tributes to the numerous soldiers who died in the epic Mahabharata war.
The Akashdeep festival is now devoted to the memory of jawans who lost their lives during wars like the Kargil and 1965 and 1971 wars against Pakistan.
Led by the Gorkha regiment, the Jawans of all the Armed forces lit hundreds of earthen lamps at Dashashavmegh Ghat to mark the Akashdeep festival as a tribute to war heroes.
These lamps will be lit everyday for a month and will conclude on Dev Deepavali, the festival celebrated after 15 days of Diwali, the festival of lights.
"We thought this was an ideal time to remember our martyrs, they were national heroes and they sacrificed their lives so that we could live in peace. In our day-to-day schedule we generally forget to remember them. So we thought that today we should celebrate this Akashdeep festival in their memory," said Bhawna Trivedi, Secretary of Ganga Sewa Nidhi organisation.
Organisers of the Akashdeep festival said that they wished to relate nationalism with religious occasion.
"I am very happy to be part of this event, I think it's a novel idea to celebrate this Akashdeep festival in memory of our martyrs, I think it's the best time to remember them," said Guru, Commanding Officer of the local Indian Air Force unit.
Residents of Varanasi and Indian Army officials joined hands to celebrate this event with pride.
"Today I felt really nice after coming for this ceremony, as today we paid homage to our martyrs who lost their lives fighting for our country. Events like this keep our memory afresh and it also help us in merging our nationalism with religious ceremonies," said Sangeeta Jain, an onlooker. By Girish Kumar Dubey