2/19/2011

Benares Varanasi

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Varanasi, burning ghats



visiting the ghats -
so many memories float
with the Ganges




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ja10#106




ja10#107






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ja10#094




a cow prepares
for her final float -
funerals for all





holy cow ...
her dead body floats
in the river Ganges



Whilst we sit at the riverside in Benares,
watching the cow (and a few other things)
slowly pass by,
a boy from the nearby chai shop
scoops some water from the river,
prepares a cup of tea and offers it to us.



 




quote
Varanasi has the finest religious river frontage in India, with miles of ghats (steps) for bathing; shrines, temples, and palaces rise tier on tier from the bank. Over a million pilgrims visit each year; many hope to die there in old age.

The burning ghats.
The bigger of the two is Manikarnika,
the other is Harishchandra.

The former hosts up to 200 cremations each day. The process is efficient and businesslike. Above the ghats are huge stacks of wood; the family of the deceased, according to their means, buys one of many funeral packages on offer, including a certain quantity of wood, sandalwood sawdust, ghee, other ritualistic paraphernalia, and a priest's services.

Orderlies set up the pyre, the body is placed on it, the priest chants and performs the rituals, ghee is poured on, and the pyre is set alight, as the men of the family watch (women stay at home). If the fire doesn't catch on well, more ghee and sawdust are added. If a family can't afford enough wood, as is not uncommon, the body is burned in stages: middle part first, while the head and legs stick out, to be pushed in deftly by a pole after the middle part collapses.

A few hours later, the ashes and bits of bones are gathered by the eldest son or a senior male of the family and consigned to the waters, where "untouchables" stand with wire nettings to dredge up the ash and mud, hoping for a gold tooth or nose ring that may have survived the fire (pieces of jewelry may be left on the deceased by the family). Not all who die are cremated -- children under five, lepers, sadhus, pregnant women, and snake-bite victims are offered directly to the river.
source : www.shunya.net


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. PHOTO ALBULM - Benares



INDEX for my trips in Japan

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ghats Benares-
the Ganga washing away
devotees' sins


Sunil Uniyal
kigo hotline 2008


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. KIGO - Visiting graves in Japan  


. The India Saijiki  



Read my Haiku Archives

My Daruma Museum Japan

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4 comments:

donnafleischer said...

I enjoyed the photographs and haiku of the ghats.

Gabi Greve said...

Thanks for visiting, dear Donna!

Isabelle said...

Beautiful combination of the excellent photos and haiku, with the story and explanations. It must have been such a memorable visit!

Gabi Greve said...

Thanks for visiting here, Isabelle san.
We styed there for about three weeks ... taking in the feel of the city ...