The Circle of Life and Death In Varanasi

Many Hundu’s go to Varanasi and wait for their lives to come full circle. Being cremated on the banks of the Ganges and having your ashes scattered into the river is the way to Nivarna. Cremations happen within just a few hours of people taking their last breath. The deceased person in wrapped in plain cloth, then colourful fabrics and carried through the alleyways to the burning Ghats.

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Mango wood is purchased and the untouchables build the fire. It looks like a bed. The amount of wood is carefully calculated depending on how big the person was. The body is dipped into the Ganges for purification then laid onto the funeral pyre.

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Once the fire is lit, only a few close family members stay. The rest sit and wait. The untouchables lay out the body make sure that the body is burned totally by moving it around the fire.

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The body can take hours to burn. And as people are dying day and night, cremations are happening 24 hours a day. Once the fire is burned out the ashes are sieved for valuable jewellery as the person is cremated exactly as they leave the world.

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