Population: 1.198 million
State: Uttar Pradesh
Significance: India’s spiritual capital
Varanasi has been inhabited since the 11th century B.C. and is one of the oldest cities in the world. It plays a large role in India’s cultural heritage and is most famous for being the spiritual hub for Hinduism.
Varanasi hosts millions of tourists each year, many of who come to wash in the famous Ganges River. Hindus believe that the Ganges is a holy river that can cleanse them from sin. The city has 87 ghats, and flights of stone steps that lead into the river where spiritual pilgrims bathe, worship, and pray. Religious ceremonies are performed multiple times a day on the ghats to worship the gods of Hinduism.
Many Hindus believe that dying in Varanasi frees one from the cycle of reincarnation. For this reason, the sick and dying will often travel to Varanasi to spend their last days. Family members carry their dead loved ones to have them cremated and placed in the river in hopes of finding everlasting freedom.
Pray for the billions of souls who come to the Ganges River to believe in Jesus who is the only one who can truly wash away sins. Also, pray for Christians in Varanasi to be lights in the immense darkness that permeates this spiritual city. Lastly, ask that they will be bold to share the gospel and make disciples.