Monday, October 15, 2007

Varanasi - Older than Civilisation

From my trip to Varanasi, happened in 2004 October. Yes, some 3 years ago. Its been like a destiny of sorts, a journey to Varanasi, the holiest, the timeless. A culmination of ones enquiry, may be.

There are so many things one can write about Varanasi - the ghats, the Ganges, the confluences of rivers, holy rituals, musicians, history, temples, food, festivals, rikshaws, handicrafts, benares sarees, the rajas, their mahals, the university and so on...And to some deeply involving subjects like - the liberation from ones sins, liberation from cycles of life, the meaning of death....

I will just confine myself to the these three photographs from Varanasi.

1. At Dasashwamedha Ghat - There are some 90 ghats along the river bank at Varanasi in a stretch of some 6kms. This ghat is the holiest of all, because of the 10 simlutaneous horse sacrifices conducted by Lord Brahma (Creator God in the trinity). A bath in the Dasashwamedh Ghat has become the quintessence of any pilgrimage to this holy city. We are seeing hundreds of devotees taking the holy dip early morning. Hundreds of pilgrims are practicing yoga, standing in the middle of the water and worshipping the rising sun, or meditating. The barges and boats are afloat on the river.

2. The ghatias (priests), bathed, dressed, and adorned with vibuthi (ash) marks on their foreheads, is leading / guiding the devotees on the rituals.

3. Harishchandra Ghat - This ghat is one of the two burning ghats in Varanasi. The smell and feel of death hang heavy in the air. The funeral fire never extinguished for time eternal. Its believed that one will achieve a break from the reincarnational cycle of birth, death and rebirth if they are cremated on a wood fire here when they die, their ashes scattered in the Ganges.

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