Varanasi .
Follow Lifeforcemag on Twitter
Varanasi by Apratim Saha Mark Twain once said,  “Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” Varanasi is also commonly known as Benares, Benaras or Kashi; a city on the banks of the River Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, India. According to legend, the city was founded by the Hindu deity, Lord Shiva, several thousands of years ago which makes it one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the country. It is regarded as a holy city by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the oldest in India. Sondha Aroti (evening Puja).  A Hindu religious ritual. Early morning body building at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. Body building on the banks of the Ganges. Burning Ghat on the Ganges.  Varanasi, India. A few days ago, early in the morning, I received a mobile call from Varanasi which really shocked me. Four words, “Sir Kiran mama chale gaye” (Kiran uncle is no more). Although I was in the middle of getting ready to go to work, I control myself and sat on the couch for an hour. He was only 65! Kiran Chowdhury, the famous Doma (A Hindu caste whose duty is to burn the dead and look after the crematorium) of Varanasi is dead!  And alhough he’ll not burn bodies anymore, the cremations will continue, just without his special touch.  During my last visit to Varanasi we had a long discussion regarding Hinduism and Karma.  Wisdom doesn’t always come from books. Priest Sadhu (holy man) Celebrating Sharada Navaratri (meaning: nine nights) on the river Ganges at Varanasi. Sharada Navaratri is celebrated five times a year and during these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi are worshipped.   Pradeep Kumar Dwivedi, the priest of the Shitala Mandir at Dasaswamedh Ghat, Varanasi is one of the few survivors of a tragic bus accident on the morning of the 3rd June 1996 when more than fifty people were killed (four people remain in a coma). In that accident he lost one of his hands. As time passed by he realized that he was being neglected by his family as he had became physically challenged due to that tragic accident.  One day he told his father that he would earn his own money and he left home to travel to Varanasi.  When he arrived, he fell in love with the ancient city. In memory of the forefathers.  He came all the way from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, to Varanasi to pay homage to his deceased ancestors.  Hindus believe that, after death, the soul is given to the Goddess Ganga and remains in the river of life and death. A family celebrating Sharada Navaratri on the river Ganges at Varanasi, India. Priest.  Waiting.
A panoramic view of the Varanasi Ghats. MAY 2012 BACK ISSUE Back to current issue