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Excerpt: The Cremation Ghats of Varanasi

Updated: Jan 30, 2022

In India, the dead are ever-present.

"The powerful images and haze from the cremation fires had an emotional, existential impact. Millions of lives had ended their journeys here, and one could not help but think what one’s own feet would look like sticking out of a burning pile of branches. They sat in the boat silently, watching the flames and the gasps of souls reaching for the sky. Families huddled around the fires as spectators watched from balconies, while ashes of the dead were shoveled into the river, spreading in a grimy alluvium human cloud. The business of death continued with purchases of wood made upon the arrival of yet another body borne through the old city’s alleys, as entire families bathed in the smoke of their loved ones, chanting prayers for the dead. In Varanasi the dead were everywhere, a constant reminder of mortality, balancing the collective spirit of the living."

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