Varanasi, City of Light
Originally posted at: https://www.global-teams.net/blog/general/2018/10/29/varanasi-city-of-light/
15 Days of Prayer for the Hindu World – Day Two
In the light of the dawn, a man immerses himself in the Ganges River. He cups his hands and slowly lifts up the holy water towards the rising sun. Young boys of the priestly caste chant mantras in unison as they practice to become priests and worship leaders. Bells of thousands of temples, dedicated to innumerable gods, ring out. The aroma of incense ÿlls the humid, dust-laden air. Dodging holy cows, devotees walk barefoot through narrow alleys that snake through the ancient city. They bear fragrant garlands, sweets, and milk to offer in temples to Shiva, the patron god of the city. In the evening, priests worship their beloved mother goddess, the River Ganga, which flows beside the city.
Varanasi is also known by the ancient name Kashi, which means the City of Light; and also by the modern name Banaras. The American novelist Mark Twain once wrote, “Banaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” Hindus from all over the world travel to bathe in the holy waters of the Ganga, hoping to be cleansed of their sin. Some even come to Varanasi to die and have their ashes spread on the river in hopes of receiving liberation.
When Rome was founded, Varanasi was already an old city. No other city has played such a central and consistent role in the development of Hindu literature and classical thought. It continues to hold a position of significant influence as a center of Hindu religious belief, as a place of pilgrimage, and as a political and educational hub. For these reasons, it is a gateway city, and its people deserve our prayers.
Ways to Pray:
- Pray for local Christians to walk in radical love and grace and for the Holy Spirit to move powerfully through them.
- Pray for both locals and pilgrims to experience dreams and visions of Jesus as they seek the divine amidst the many temples.
- Pray for the city to become a true ‘city of light’ so that Hindus would look towards it and see Jesus. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” (Isaiah 9:2)