Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nepal - Pashupatinath

If you have heard of tourists talking about the public cremation of corpses in Nepal, Pashupatinath would be the place to witness it all.

En route to the holy Bagmati River where the cremation takes place, there is no tell tale signs of what we were about to witness. It is just another touristy place of interest where the walking paths are lined with make-shift stalls selling yet more Nepalese souvenirs.

As the holy river came into view, we saw squarish cremation ghats lined along one side of the river. Only two of the ghats had smoke smouldering from a pile of logs and dried hays. Every so often, a man would check the fire and sweep some burnt out debris into the river.

Further down some ghats, we saw a body shrouded in a bright yellow cloth biding it's turn to be lit. Nearby, children can be seen bent on their backs, scouring the river. Only after further enquiry did I understood what the children were looking for - the valuables of the deceased which have been spared the fury of the fire and swept into the river.

On the opposite bank of the narrow river, an elderly man can be seen washing his clothes in the very same river containing the burnt debris of the logs and corpses.

All of these were witnessed by throngs of tourists atop a bridge, armed with their expensive cameras, clicking away on their shutters - oblivious to the sadness surrounding the deceased family, the young children who should be enjoying their carefree days and the strength of the local's religious beliefs?

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