Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pashupatinath, Kathmandu

Smoke engulfs the ghats behind the temple. At the riverbank, a deceased burns in the wooden pyre. A few steps away, the cremains of another and the charred, smoking logs are swept easily into the holy river of Bagmati. The logs, more of coal now, are collected at the lower stream and reused for the next cremation. Nearby, a mother rubs the forehead of her child with the blessed water of the same river. The far quiet end of the temple finds an ancient yogis' cave while on the opposing ghat, colourful sadhus are posing for the visitors' cameras, for a fee. At the top of the the temple that admits only the Hindus, marigold garlands offered to Lord Shiva are thrown into the same bend of the Bagmati.

One by one, her lifeless limbs fall off the swaying stretcher. This pale old woman in red is being carried to her transition, covered by a piece of long, white cloth. Mourners walk behind her. A burly man in a clean, white shirt wearing a gold watch lowers her gently onto the burning ground at the riverbank. He wraps her with layers of white and yellow fabrics as he chants. He's the ceremony conductor, perhaps. Crowds, young and old, gather around the ghat to witness the ritual, expressionless. Cremation at the upper stream is more expensive, someone said. Soon, the pyre will form, set on fire and the transition shall begin.

Divine. Pensive. Haunting....just another day at Pashupatinath.


J said...

Wow. The circle of life.... all linked to the sacred river. Cool!

qwazymonkey said...

Love how you juxtapose your long shots with micro observations of the human nature in this post, my monkey bro!

Life for Beginners said...

Transition... and transcendence, maybe. This is a most reflective and reverent piece, my friend. :)

minchow said...

This is beautiful stuff! Left me speechless, I kid you not!

HairyBerry said...

j, you are so right. it's a circle of life so familiar to us yet felt so new. another experience gain, a lesson learnt.

qwazymonkey, thanks so much, monkey bro! ya know, now that ya mentioned it, i do realise that there is some kind of juxtaposition between the pics and the story. ah, i must do more with this concept! :)

kenny, ah yes, transit to transcend. you've certainly brought out a good point. thank you so much for the compliment, bro. am really glad you enjoyed this as much as i'd writing it. :)

minchow, glad you liked this piece! :) mortality itself is a good storyteller, it is.