Varanasi , City of Life and Death

Varanasi was a life changing experience for me.  I have visited it twice, once on each trip to India. This morning, I was looking for pictures of the narrow alleyways that make up the ancient city, and I found this video on the Hindu death rituals in this holiest of  ancient Hindu cities.

Hindus believe, from their mythology, that Varanasi ,( Beraris, Kashi) was created by Shiva from a time  3000-9000 years ago and is the oldest contentiously inhabited city on the earth. Archaeologists have found evidence that it is in the top 10 oldest , continuously inhabited cities on earth.  I had planned to share our experience this last trip of visiting the ancient courtyard of the Shiva Temple, nestled in the center of the narrow alleyways that make-up the ancient city.

We were told by our local guide to respect the dead and not take pictures.  Obviously, the filmmaker had permission to film as an educational film. Each time we pass this ghat of death on our boat floating in the Ganga, we just instinctively rose silently to our feet in respect for the dead and  the the  mourning family .

We were told that the Indians, who are able, go to Varanasi and rent a room  when they are near death because dying and being cremated there t  insures the immediate acceptance to heaven or Moksha. Two  interesting traditions are that no women from the family are allowed near the crematorium because of the belief that women are more emotional and would be too distress by the sight of their loved one being cremating.  Also the reverse baptism of the body in the sacred water of the Ganga as the first step of cremation. .

Cremation has become popular all through the world  due to cost of burials, cemeteries being  short on space, and religious or nonreligious beliefs.  In fact, David and I have discussed that we both are considering cremation , when the time comes.

 

This Is Incredible India! 

About annetbell

I am a retired elementary teacher, well seasoned world traveler,new blogger, grandmother, and a new enthusiastic discoverer of the wonderfully complex country of India. Anne
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