I sat by the Ganges
Each morning the faithful gather by the shores of the Ganges in order to celebrate fire. At dusk you can hear ardent hymns in honour of the goddess Ganga. The bells, flowers and candles on the water, as well as those in hands of the ones performing the rituals, focus the attention of praying crowd and of us – bystanders with cameras. Most people seek rapture here. Sometimes it takes the form of a dot on forehead. Sometimes – a fire released to flow on the water. Sometimes – a time of focus and seriousness. The river shores are the place, that make me shiver and feel pain in my stomach – because of the festival of smells of different origin. On the one hand spiritual purification. On the other – humanly speaking – the smell of burning bodies. It is a meeting place for the youth, playground for kids, laundry, temple and crematorium. Walking on Gath Stairs in Varanasi I'm trying to understand how to join all those functions in one place. It seems almost impossible and yet... The mistery of death isn't such a mystery here. Children, random residents, close and distant kin – they all participate in it. It happens so naturally that here life and death intermingle unceremoniously.
Living among piles of dead people goes twice as much intensely, without crying and lament. Death is accepted here as a chance for something better. A chance for disengaging from the circle of life. If not for disengaging – for better Carma. Maybe that tired riksha driver pedaling in burning sunshine will be an owner of a tuk-tuk in the next incarnation, and the owner of the tuk-tuk will become a happy taxi drive? Perhaps that's why most of them don't strive for a change, even though their life is cruel, hard and arduous. They accept what they were given with hope for being able to burn naxt to the Ganges. But not all of them will attain that, because - apart from pregnant women, children and people bit by a viper – the little people who can't afford wood won;t be burnt, but dropped to river as a whole.
Indeed, the higher caste is the deceased, the closer to the Ganges will he burn. And even the wood used in the process will be of better quality. In other words, in all that disorder, the richer you are, the biggest chance you have for a close encounter with the god. The rest are left with ardent faith.
And I am thinking, what about the needle's eye? The camel and the wealth? After all it was said: “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And in this atmosphere of different spirituality we can divagate, because who knows all the answers, twisting ways, when it is so difficult to understand all the local rituals? Fortunately, no one forces you with a gun to do anything, so we (knowing God is a jealous God what our mate reasonably remarked) didn't accept any dot nor light. Because we didn't understand.
The celebration of light, dance with lanterns, incense are in a way familiar and delightful! So, although you can try to observe the clutural and religious thread in the right, good light, walking over dead bodies or their remnants is more difficult. Today I observed a group of kids running, jumping into water, laughing. Behind them a dead bodies were brought and prepared for burning. Then cows came and decided to take a gregarious bath, nearby a group of crawny dogs fight one another for a piece of cloth, and pretty close to the pyre a man started setting a stall with popcorn, shouting every now and then. Neither a grief, nor popsicle. Brainsickness isn't a rare view here. The rest of story you add yourself.
It's a loud city, if you wake up at two, for or five a.m. you can unceasingly hear wail, some screams. I can sai it is kinda untypical ecperience.
The “untouchable” - it's the name of those who care for the ritual of burning bodies.The lowest in the hierarchy, they accept their work without fuss, and it happens that jewellery found in the burnt body becomes an object of someone's enrichment or trade. When a human being is poor and eating too little it's hard to have scruples.
So despite beautiful forts, temples and gardens, this oldest city is one of the few I'm glad to leave. Varanasi is worth visiting, it's a must. But in my opinion it is an extremity I – a humble musician – can't bear.
Sarnath is a out-of-the-way city considered to be the birthplace of Buddhism. Imagination here didn't know any borders. The remnants of temples and places of worship – another touch of living history.
It turned out on the way back that hitch-hiking in India isn't that hard, but still it requires resigning from comfort and much time. Yesterday, we were happy because of the possibility of travelling by a truck, tractor and a cart. My outfit - you can guess which one:) - was given another name: evening-agricultural outfit. So much joy for both sides. Heading toward the conclusion, I think the hardest part of the road is behind us. In Varanasi we are saying goodbye to our yoke-fellow Sebastian. It's a huge loss! And now we are going to conquer the south. Another records of time spent in a train ahead of us. 43 hours in a train full of people and insects and micro-organisms of any kind are something remarkable. We roast in the sun, the laundry is drying... so called calm before the storm.
- End of the road
- My Indian Family
- Phantom town - Khajuraho
- Tea variation
- Women like the flowers
- I sat by the Ganges
- Evening - trekking outfit
- At 5 am
- No route to Leh
- Paper conflict – Jaipur
- One rupee
- Marija from the desert
- I feel like a king – a bit dirty, but still a king!
- The very disorganized expedition