A Hindu ceremony was going on - it is probably the “Agni Pooja” (Worship to Fire). The ceremony was spectacular, with fire (naturally), smoke, bells, chants, and more.
Thousands of people were watching from the steps. Most of them were Indians. But there were also many foreign tourists, like us. Many people were busy snapping photographs, or taking videos.
Many were watching from the boats on the river.
There were, of course, cows in the crowds. Many people touched the cows with their hands, and then touched their foreheads. A young boy sat with the cows. A family passed by, the mother took out a variety of foods, wrapped the food in a pancake, and gave to the boy, as well as to another man.
There were also many colourfully-dressed beggars - charity is apparently an important element of Hinduism.
All in all, a wonderful introduction to Varanasi.