Varanasi also commonly known as Benaras, is a city situated on the banks of the River Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, India. Benaras is regarded as a holy city by Hindus.
Death in Varanasi brings Hindus salvation (moksha). This means the cycle of reincarnation ends and you go directly to heaven.
If a person dies beside the Ganges in Varanasi or has Ganges water sprinkled on them as they breath their last breath it is believed they achieve absolute salvation.
Cremation is an extremely important ritual for Hindus. Fire is the chosen method for disposal of the dead because of its association with purity and its power to scare away harmful ghosts, demons and spirits. The fire god Agni is asked to consume the physical body and create its essence in heaven in preparation for transmigration.
The processions with the corpse to the ghat are often accompanied by a chant “Rama nama satya hai." The body is immersed once in the Ganges and then anointed with ghee (clarified butter).
The cremations in Varanasi are preformed by the Doms, a subcaste that makes their living burning bodies for cremations for a fee that ranges considerably depending on the wealth of the family. The Doms are a caste of Untouchables. Touching a corpse after death is viewed as polluting and thus only Untouchables are designated to do this kind of work.
After the cremation the bones and ashes of the deceased are thrown into the Ganges.
Manikarnika Ghat is dedicated to the cremation ritual. Approx 60 people are cremated per day at Manikarnika.
This is a photo story based on my experience with Death. But the story is about Life - Life at the Cremation ghat. Please check this out and leave your feedback in the comments section below.