Sankat Mochan Temple's music festival (April-May) is quite famous and
concerts are held through the night till dawn. Reputed and masters of
vocal and instrumental music take part in it. They have founded their
Gharanas (schools) in the city. They promote instrumental arts like sitar, shehnai
and tabla etc. A research centre (RIMPA) was established in 1978. Present
day Banaras is famous for its Magahi Paan and Bhang (Cannabis). Another
distinctive feature of Banaras is its akharas a sort of gymnasium plus
wrestling rung. Special bouts are arranged during the festival of Nagapanchami.
The Buddhist Jatakas and Chanakya's Arth Shastra are full of reference
to the silk and cotton products of Banaras. They had silk, brocade, copper
and brass industries. Zari, also known as Kalabattu (filament spun from
gold and silver) is renowned here. Objects of ivory with fine filigree
work and charming designs are also made in Banaras. Bhodi which is a town
near Banaras is famous for woolen carpets.
Another tradition which is slowly disappearing, peculiar to Banaras is its
ekka (one horse-driven cart) with no roof and seats for only three persons
including the driver. When British Empire came to power, Banaras became the centre of Christianity
too. Many churches were constructed here. The president of the Theosophical
society Mrs. Annie Besant made Banaras her head quarters. The city is the head
quarters of the Indian section of the Theosophical society.