A fire that has been kept alive for over 3500 years, corpses being burned for Moksha 24×7, on the banks of holy river Ganges, Varanasi is one of the world’s oldest living city and it surprises its visitors with strange and mystical realties attached within its culture and uninterrupted traditions.
Manikarnika Ghat and Harishchandra Ghat hosts around 300 cremations a day. Once the pyre is set up, four men close to the deceased carry the corpse in on a bamboo stretcher supported on their shoulders. If the deceased lived to be over eighty, there may even be muted celebration and gaiety. The priest begins the rituals and the chanting—part of the antim sanskaar, or last rites, which vary by region, caste, and other social factors. The ritual is different in case of Sadhus, lepers, children under the age of 5, pregnant women or victims of snake bites as their bodies do not require further purification by fire according to Hindu mythology. They are taken in a boat to the middle of river Ganges , tied to a stone, and sunk to the bottom, becoming food for fishes and river turtles.
Witnessing this age old tradition, those flames of fury brings in a sense of calm and lets one make peace with his own life. After all there is nothing as true and certain as death that can negate our burden of reasoning.
“Though the ordinary man looks upon death with dread and sadness, those who have gone before know it as a wondrous experience of peace and freedom.” __ (Bhagavad Gita)
“Verily, we are Allàh’s and verily to Him shall we return.” __ (Holy Quran – 2:156)
“We are confident, I say and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” __ (Corinthians 5:8)