The kings of Varanasi had great interest in literature, art & culture. Refined interest of the Varanasi kings can be noted by the facts that Raja Chet Singh wrote a poetry book ‘Laxmi Narayan Vinod’ and Maniyar Singh, the nephew of Raja Balwant Singh wrote in 1786 AD ‘Bhawarth Chandrika’. It is historically recorded that Raja Balwant Singh, king of Kashi and father of Raja Chet Singh, had initiated the festival of Budhwa Mangal, dedicated to Lord Hanuman. According to ‘History of Kashi’ (Kashi Ka Itihaas), written by Dr. Moti Chandra, in 1735 AD, in order to please and honor the Muslim governor of the region, Mir Rustam Ali, the king ensured repeated execution of the same at his residence, located on the banks of the Ganga. It is said that 300 years ago, dance performances were carried out throughout the night on hundreds of boats all around ghats. Confectioners (हलवाइयों) prepared various cuisines, especially Puri & Kachori, on the boats and served to the participants. But, according to the Banaras Gazetteer, Wazir Ali, son of Nawab Asafuddaula, initiated the Budhwa Mangal festival. As per Purna Chandra Upadhyay from BHU Medical Science Institute suggests by citing a 65 years old picture that grand Budhwa Mangal festival was organized and celebrated by the then Kashi Naresh (king of Varanasi) on a large constellation of boats decorated with peacock feathers. A constellation of several large boats is called in local parlance as ‘bajra’ (बजरा). It started from Ramnagar (southern end of Varanasi) and spread till Raj Ghat (northern section of Banaras). Hundreds of boats were decorated with flowers and the ‘rasiks’ (participants) enjoyed classical music, wearing ‘kurta’, ‘pajama’, pink cap on head and rose petals in the hands.
In front of Assi Ghat, amidst picturesque waves of Ganga, several decorated floating boats are tied together to a stage. Esteemed guests & participants gather on the boats in conventional attires, applied with traditional perfumes (‘itra’- इत्र). The boats are equipped with various food items and betal leaves (पान). Among main activities in Budhwa Mangal is musical concert that conserves great & rich legacy of classical, semi-classical and folk music of Varanasi like Hori, Chaita, Dadra and Thumri. Also, maestros of Indian musical instruments participate in it.