I could also title this article “love at first sight”. Varanasi is a particular city. Its energy and spiritual soul captivated me. It is about a few hours from Delhi but the atmosphere is completely different. Let me try to tell a little part of its story.
Varanasi, also called Bénarès, Banaras or Kashi is considered as one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. It is famous in India and all over the world for being the holy city in hinduism. According to this religion, dying in Varanasi stops the process of reincarnation and lets the soul going in Nirvana (kind of paradise). That’s why Hindus from all of the world come to die there. Hospices are packed, waiting for their end.
When they die the bodies are covered with tissu and flowers, purified in the Ganga (the holy river) and burnt next to it. Around 250/300 bodies are burnt every day. That never stops. During the whole day you can see people carrying the body of their relatives to go on the sides of the Ganga. The fire used is the same from more than 3 500 years, according to the legend. After the combustion, the bones and the rest of the body are put in the Ganga.
It can be very violent for some sensitive people : you see dead people, you see their body burning, you hear a bomber noise when the fire attacks the head.
This atmosphere can be considered as strange or even inappropriate from an occidental eye, but there, it is completely usual. Indian people don’t see any problem with the fact that occidental tourists come to watch this process. If it’s done with respect and restraint, of course. Some guides are there to explain the cremation process for free, even if the usage is to give them money after the visit.
Let’s see that in details and pictures.