Varanasi - India


From its springs near the borders of Tibet and all the way to Calcutta and the Bay of Bengal, the river Ganges flows for 3.100 kilometers, crossing eastern India. The sacred city of Benares, or Varanasi, is the single most important and sacred stop in its way. Enormous palaces, reflected in the water, dramatic faces and ascetic figures that trust in eternity. And Ganges, Ganga mother for the Indians, purifying and promising. on the banks, the children swim and play, and as they grow up, they become more aware of their actions. The adults walk in the traditional paths of faith, dancing with the sun and the water, as if in a process of osmosis with nature, exchanging energy. In every gat, the spiritual life intertwines with the daily round. Next to the purified ones, some are getting a shave; others wash themselves or do their laundry. Monks meditate, women wash their hair, water buffalos quench their thirst, and dogs look for garbage along the edge of the water.

Maya visits the Manikarnika gat, the largest of the cremation grounds. It is the holiest site for the pilgrims here, since "in Varanasi, death is a privilege". The relatives, who pick the wood for the cremation of their loved one, don't even shed a tear. "Tears inhibit the soul from reaching Heaven and here, Death is liberating, it is a blessing." Indeed, while the sight seems cruel, still, there's a casual quality about it, an inexplicable lightness, no drama at all.