Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra
Death – a subject no one likes to talk about even though it is the only certainty and MUST be dealt with.
So I will not talk about it here.
Just present pictures of burning ghats.
A Ghat is a set of steps leading down to the river. Ghats could be used by washermen for doing laundry and such a ghat is called Dhobi (washerman) Ghat
Other Ghats have been allocated for performing the last rites of deceased Hindus and cremating them in pyres. These are called Burning Ghats. These exist mainly in North India along the river Ganga (and its tributaries) and in Nepal along the river Bagmati.
Burning Ghats have a spiritual aura about them. A sense of heavy sadness and a sense of ‘Mukti’ [liberation from the cycles of life] mixes with the smoke of the fires that have burned the body of the dead and the souls of the bereaved.
And then there are the ashes that must be immersed into the holy river. Dust to Dust. Dust to Water. Rituals that are meant to offer peace to the souls of the dead but in reality allow for more time to engage in deep grieving.
And bracketing all the visitors to the Ghats, are two groups of people guiding ad protecting them (like two palms holding the urn):
a. the spiritual leaders of society – the Brahman Priests who show them the path ahead and
b. the people shunned by society because of their dealings with death, disease & danger – the Cleaners – who deal with the wood and the ashes, the bones, the remains and the aftermath of the process.
The photos below capture these spiritual moments – they capture the aura and the essence of the place – of the final steps.
This is Pashupatinath in Nepal. Serene and peaceful. In spite of the heaviness, it is magical and magnetic.
Must visit again!
Photos are from the Cultural Image Library at wovensouls.com
One more illustration of a Burning Ghat seen on the internet: