VARANASI - LAST STOP
Varanasi, the home of Shiva, the sacred city according to the Hindus, the place to go to die by being cremated and be reunited directly with the the cosmos freeing the soul to heaven. It happens at Manikarnika Ghat, one of many Ghat (from the english word "gate") which give access to “mama Ganga”, the sacred river of life, where every Hindu is immersed in its waters to purify the soul from sins and be forgiven. The ceremonies which take place continuously from morning to night, 24/7, for centuries, are carried out in an extremely normal atmosphere, under the gaze of passers-by, onlookers, tourists, stray animals, children and of course the families of the deceased, all busy in something, who pass by there, who carries something, the seller, who cleans, who beg, who drink tea, who talk, who work, who play, in short it’s a ceremony extremely sacred to its meaning in a normal and daily context in the life of Varanasi. After a while we witness the ceremonies you begin to understand the ritual, the sequence of actions, then more than someone approaches you to give explanations, sometimes with the second goal to seek offers. It can safely be stationed on the steps of the Ghat on the terraces or in the surrounding area for a panoramic view of the blazing wooden pyres on the banks of the Ganges, it observes what happens sometimes dipped in soot carried by the wind, away from the horn of a busy city, chaotic, sprawling, with the curiosity that you can have for something never seen before but especially with the reflections that each one is led to ask for what you are seeing and what they think in relation to the concept of death and what, if any, can there after. The Hindu belief is that by being cremated in the city of Varanasi is to interrupt the cycle of rebirth thus freeing the soul in heaven and to reconnect directly with Shiva, with the universe he created. No reincarnation, no new ground loop. Varanasi, last stop.