Chaos, dirt and much poverty. It is the first impression one has when traveling to Varanasi, also known as Varanasi; However, what makes the oldest city in India unique is the spirituality that arises from the Ganges River, which has a length of 2,525 km; It is one of the most polluted and, in turn, one of the most sacred in the world.
There are many myths that surround the mystery by which this river is so sacred. One of the most popular stories among Hindus involves the three main deities of Hinduism. It is said that the god Brahma created the sweat river of Vishnu, the preserving god; the calm and serenity he possesses is due to the power of Shiva, the destroying god.
Another belief is that a king named Sagara offered a horse to the gods, but it was stolen; angry, Sagara blamed an innocent sage, who by revenge killed all his children. Faced with the fatality, a relative of the king implored Brahma that the goddess Ganga came down to clean the ashes of the children so that they could finish their cycle of reincarnations.
Considering these beliefs, it is easy to understand why the dream of any Hindu is to be cremated in the “Manikarnika”, as the most famous crematorium on the banks of the Ganges is known.
Some foreigners see this place only as a source of infection; however, it is an impressive display of the faith that Hindus possess while waiting for the spiritual liberation or “moksha” of their loved ones. Being cremated on this site offers believers the opportunity to free themselves from their karma and end the cycle of “samsara” or reincarnation. That is why it is believed that with this process it is possible to reach eternal communion with Brahma, the creator god.
For many Hindus to be cremated in this sacred site represents an effort of years that saves money, since the wood used to carry out this process is obtained from the sandalwood tree; an expensive wood and considered divine. The reason they use it is that it does not derive any bad smell during the ritual. India is famous for its smells, which are not always very pleasant. But although the crematorium is surrounded by cows, dogs, buffaloes, and chickens, as well as garbage, excrement and other unpleasant debris, the place does not give off any bad smell.
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The cost of this wood ranges between 20 and 25 thousand rupees per cremation, which is equivalent to about 300 US dollars; Due to the high cost, many Hindus try to join Brahma directly and throw the bodies into the river, which generates an alarming problem because of the level of pollution that this causes.
Knowing this place is an experience that you will probably never forget because it will mark your life. It doesn’t matter what religion you practice, but you have to accept that within the chaos of Varanasi there is an aura that makes it unique and sacred.
Appreciate the stillness of the waters of the river in the middle of the chaos and notice the toilet of the place in the middle of a scenario of waste, leaves anyone with a strange sense of peace or, perhaps, of fascination when contemplating the faith with which the Hindus they bathe and drink the water of the river to purify themselves, regardless of whether the Ganges is a daily recipient of pieces of bodies, ashes, bones, and hair of humans, because as the Hindus say: “It burns and learns.”