My India: Varanasi

Let me begin by apologizing for not responding sooner to all your warm and encouraging comments on my India series.  For some inexplicable reason, WordPress did not show your comments. Then, I discovered that all your comments were pending! Sorry.

Now, on to Varanasi, which was the most fascinating of all the places I visited in India.

Varanasi, one of the oldest cities in the world, is situated along the sacred Gange River. It is here that the Hindus come to bathe in the holy water and to cleanse their sins.

Varanasi Gange

As one approaches the river, the streets are lined for blocks with men and women amidst roaming cows, motorbikes, cars, rickshaws, pilgrims and tourists. I cannot imagine how social distancing can ever occur here. People are crammed as they are, practically on top of each other. It is extreme chaos. And, yet, amidst all of this there is an intense spiritual mood as they make they their way to the banks of the river for the evening Aarti. Aarti is a Hindu spiritual fire ritual performed by Brahmin disciples to honor the holy river, Gods and deities.

Every evening, seven Brahmin disciples, using lamps, incense and chants face the river as they worship the goddess, Mother Gange.

aarti

Further down the river is where cremations take place. There can be as many as a hundred cremations a day. Mourners line up for their turn to dip the body shrouded in cloths and on stretchers into the Gange. The principle griever, dressed in white,   registers the body and picks up the wood necessary for the cremation. This dipping of the deceased in the Gange and then purified by fire and throwing the ashes into the river is meant to liberate the body from the cycle of life and death and thus move on to a higher plane of being.

Varanasi burials

Sunset on the Holy Ganges

Varanassi moon

What would India be without its sacred cow

sacred cow

Cows are considered sacred by Hindus in India. They were the favorite animal of Lord Krishna, and they serve as a symbol of wealth, strength, and abundance.

 

40 thoughts on “My India: Varanasi

  1. What a tremendous experience, Carol! I’ve been following your India series with so much interest and appreciation for your journey and your willingness to share it with us. Someday I will go.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you so much, Margot for following. As you said, it has been a tremendous experience and I’m still integrating it. I hope that you get to go there one day. I would love to go back. There’s so much to see, so much that I missed. Take care. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

    • Well, these days, we’re all confined to do some virtual travelling. I’ve been watching some TV travel shows. They must be very popular these days. There are a lot of great blogs and YouTube videos on India. Keep safe. ❤

      Like

  2. Almost everything is different there. I bet you would hardly get everything written down each day, if you were to record everything that was different from home. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Oh, you are so right, Anneli. But really, Varanasi was the most different and also the most shocking. I didn’t write about all the sick and dying people lined up along the street. They come to Varanasi to die and have their ashes thrown into the Holy Gange because of their belief in a better karma the next time around. I find myself so privileged to live in Canada and now with the Covid-19 even more so not to have to endure the horror of becoming homeless. Have a happy week. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sure you could write volumes about your experiences there, and as you say, it isn’t all roses. We really are fortunate to live in Canada. We have our problems but nothing like they do in some other countries.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Interesting story about the significance of the sacred cows. And glad you figured out the comment thing with your blog Carol, quite a few of us have been having lots of headaches these past weeks.Hope it’s all fixed up now. Hugs < xx

    Liked by 4 people

    • Now, I know that my comments don’t automatically appear on my post like they used to. I have to remember to check my comment page and what’s pending. Wherever I went, whether in southern or northern India and in every city there were always cows lying around, even on the beach. I got used to them pretty quickly and didn’t mind them at all. Just part of the décor. There is a growing conflict between the Hindus and the Muslims in India and part of it has to do with the Muslims, who are beef eaters and thus slaughter the cows. India’s Muslim population is the world’s third largest so you can see how this can be a problem for the Hindus who regard the cow as sacred.
      Hugs back to you, Debby and hope your troubles with WordPress are solved. xxx

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for elaborating on the current crisis in India, Carol. I can see where the cows would be a huge problem with a religion who eats meat. But I can’t help but wonder why a conflict only grows now over this situation if such a large population of Muslims already have been residing there for so long? Hugs Carol xxx

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I need to go back into your blog and follow this series. I have never been to India – however it has always fascinated me. The BBC has had some one wonderful documentaries about the country and I can never get enough of them. Thank you – Janet X

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Jill. Actually, I didn’t find the cremation ceremony chilling but rather fascinating. I was in a boat watching it and was captivated by the scene before me. It was very solemn and yet a matter of fact. Although he scene looked chaotic everything seemed to be well organized. BTW women are not permitted to attend these ceremonies. I was told that it would be too difficult for them and they were to stay at home to prepare for receiving the guests after the ceremony.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d read about the rituals but not about the ins and outs of it and had not see recent images either. It’s a different world, for sure. Thanks for sharing it with us, Carol.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. It actually feels so proud being an Indian for you to visit beautiful places. Well, I haven’t visited all of them… But your experience will help me a lot. I’m so glad that you like each and every aspect and learnt everyday something new!
    Thanks for sharing… I’m so pleased to follow you 😃

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Cows are most innocent and

    most feared about animal in India 🙈🙈🙈🙈😁😁😁🤔🤔

    Later one, thanks to fanatics

    Like

    • How wonderful it would have been to have met you while I was there. I am sure you would have shown me another part of Varanasi to appreciate and love. Varanasi was my favorite of theplaces I visited in India. ❤

      Like

  8. Varanasi a heart of india. India really exist in varanasi. A divine city ,a city the can’t be explained In words.
    You might be interested to read my blog on a marble on India that is Meenakshi Amman temple, Madurai

    Liked by 1 person

  9. wow very nice and wondeful post,,,,amazing nature picture,,,,,It very important for me and our new generation people,,,,Thank you,,,,Waiting for your next blig posting,,,,, regularly stay with you,,,,
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