The Ganges, Varanassi (Benares), India...

15th March, 1996.
early morning boat trip up the Ganges
... along the bathing ghats little copper vials containing water from the river are sold.  The man selling them is wearing only a sarong and has just been bathing.  You can sense his fulfilment.  The holiest river there is, The Ganges, flows past his doorstep and he gets to bathe in it every day, a man rich in his religion.

People make pilgrimages of many thousands of miles from all over India to come here.  For many it is to die even, to go the holiest way there is to go, to have their bodies cremated in one of the burning ghats and their ashes given to the river.

We took a boat trip this morning and passed one of the burning ghats, Harischadra ghat.  There were a couple of men scooping up the remains of the funeral pyres into cane baskets, swishing them around a little, letting the ash and charcoal float away.  The old man rowing our boat gestured to his teeth.... panning for the gold fillings of those deceased it seems.

Sitting down later in the day to watch the kids play cricket (they love cricket and play it up and down the ghats all afternoon), one of them came and talked to us.  He was born here in Varanassi he told us, but is not sure if he wants to die here...
Fatephu Sikri Index, Moments Amalfi Coast, Italy
copyright information Copyright Sunda 1997