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!