Varanasi: the purification of holy water and fire

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I followed the Ganga River to arrive in Varanasi, another highly spiritual city. The “nude babas”, covered with dust, already occupy the place. They installed themselves along the river in many tents, around the Gath, these long stairs leading to the river. They spend their time sleeping, meditating and smoking. They easily invite foreigners to share a cup of tea or a “shilum” (sort of pipe with hashish). For people who renounced the earn money, they spend quite a lot in drugs!! Some practice the “penis yoga”: by putting their penis around a rope they can carry another person just with their penis strength!! I didn’t believe it before seeing it. Just incredible.

At the Manikanika Gath, several wood pyramids are burning, bringing some souls toward another life. Regularly, chanting and bells announce the arrival of a new dead body. Only the male members of the family are coming at the cremation place. Usually the body is fully covered by a fabric, but sometimes we can see the head. Then you see the hairs burning and the face becoming dark. And you realize we are all meant to go back to dust…IMG_5793

It is possible to cross the Ganga River by boat to reach a beach, unfortunately full of rubbish. Strange object floating in the water don’t give me the desire to bath… Nevertheless, many Indians are bathing every day at both sides of the river! At sun down, Indians are celebrating the “arti” to venerate the Ganga River with fire, flowers and incent. Many families put flowers and candles on the river, giving birth to hundreds of fireflies following the river current.

I stayed a few days in Varanasi among the Rainbow family who moved also from the Kumbah Mela to Varanasi. We were often invited to eat with some baba, and I discovered the best “lassi” (milky drink) in all India. I was hosted by a couchsurfer about 5km away from the Ganga River, in a sumptuous house. After sharing a last meal with a Christian community, I took a train for Calcutta…

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