December 11th, 2008 – by: sgoudryagranada
Iâ€™m not that comfortable seeing dead people burningâ€¦ Thatâ€™s what we saw the first morning in Varanasi, and thatâ€™s also what we were supposed to see here. So in the end it shouldnâ€™t be that shocking seeing the Hindu tradition of burning the dead especially here in Varanasi which is their most sacred city. But still my thoughts were quite confused when we actually were watching them burning three bodiesâ€¦ It should be natural thinking that itâ€™s just their way of ending the life of that body, that for the dead person itâ€™s actually an honour and that his soul will be liberated.
The same way we burn bodies in Western crematories (yes I know that we canâ€™t see the actual burning just the ashes maybeâ€¦), but perhaps the fact that they do it here by the river Ganges just like any fire with people watching beside is freaking me a little bit... Like a real life horror film because you could see those parts of the body that hadnâ€™t burnt yet coming out from the pile of wood, like a foot with toes but without the bodyâ€¦ a bit too much for me.
Otherwise this city is quite particular. The old part is a labyrinth of narrow streets where you can easily get lost. Everything is concentrated in the ghats by the Ganges River. Walking along the river you can see how important it actually is. The Indians do everything in the river, which is of course for us incomprehensible, knowing that the river is one of the most polluted ones in this world. One of the weirdest things was seeing that they wash their clothes in the dirty water and then dry the clothes on even filthier ground full of cows shit and all the possible garbage you can imagineâ€¦ That explains the smell of the local people.
We have also seen in this trip that when you give your clothes to the laundry service they actually come back dirtier with the lovely smell of Ganges Riverâ€¦ canâ€™t wait to use a real washing machine when we get to Australia.
We saw the mountains, the desert, maharajahs palaces, panic bazaars, temples made by stone, marble and gold. We saw monks, gurus, yogi, beggars, mutilated, leprosies.
Wonders of the natures and majesty of the humans, high and low of moral and spirit, but the most fascinating and sacred place, where you can just stare for hours at different times without understanding it, every time with new curiosity, itâ€™s what one time was a river, with its ancient traditions of bathing, cleaning, boating, rituals and death, the only things remained over a dark, grey sewer that flows between one sacred bank and one desolate, abandoned side where you can see the ancient shape of India.
The banks are filled with naked humans purifying themselves, animals catching the few sunbeams that can pierce the fog, dead bodies waiting for the fire, falling-to-pieces buildings that appear like stone walls emerged after an earthquake, linked by stairs and separated by walls, mixed together in a daedal of life that develops itself in the most unhygienic, unfertile land you could imagine. Where people gather to die, the gift of life is given to the ones whoâ€™ll have not much more than a body and a soul, to live a life of body sufferance and deep emotions.