Aarti

Back at Brownie’s for a pad thai, some chai and mango juice after a morning of writing and packing up!

Met up with Tony my tuktuk walla, gave him my rain coat, water bottle and a towel that some other tuktuk dude tried to take…
This eve we board a train for a 12 hr journey overnight to Agra to see the Taj.
After I eat something, Tony, Sunjay and I are off to Sarnath to see place where Buddha gave his first sermon then walk around the old city for a bit and then back to chill and get ready for the train journey!!
Last night was another crazy experience that is one for the books. I did not realize how old and special Varanasi is, the place where the old come to die as it is here that the staircase to heaven is said to exist.
Cremations on the Ganga

As we were approaching the city to get our boats to watch the evening cremations and Aarti (prayers), the sky unleashed its mighty force and pelted the city down with wonderfulness.

We watched all the orange dressed Bal Bum devotees running in the rain, getting high of the vibe, all these young boys apparently for 70 percent of them this was the first time away from their homes.
Of course the rain just stopped just in time for us to board our boats and row with our teen sailors Bhole and Arga to see seven or eight bodies being burnt and one waiting for cremation then came back to the bank of the Ganga to watch Aarti, the evening prayers.
It was a spectacular site, a ritual that happens 365 days of the year where seven young priests perform prayers and a ritual with fire while a singer sings in the background accompanied by sounds blown from seashells in Hindi called “Shankh”- symbol of victory.
Very powerful moment, Hindus wait their whole lives to come here, like Mecca for the Muslims and here I am with my hands in the river in the scared ancient place full of magic and Indian flavoured circus chaos…
Om Jay Ganga – a chant to the mother Ganga
Candles, incense, flowers, shells, families, bells, children, lovers and the Ganga.

Baby prostrating on a boat

I saw this baby boy whose mother out him on the boat just prostrate on his own in child’s pose and he just stayed there until his father came to move him while other passengers boarded the boats. 
Massive fish jumping around and I asked if there were any crocodiles and was told no but there are fresh water dolphins that belong to the Ganga 😉


Harish told us that when the Ganga slows down in summer, bodies just pop up all over the Ganga and at the same time people are drinking and bathing in that water and no one ever gets sick.

We learnt that after 3 to 4 hours when the body is ashes, the priest gives the ashes and the navel (which doesn’t burn) to the family to put in the Ganga.

So I of course got disconnected with the group who were a bit furious with me when I found them as we were trying to beat the traffic madness! 
Anyway, was great walking in the rain with tuktuks behind me, bicycles and people in front, motorbikes beeping and cars honking, cow bells ringing, rain falling, people walking in droves, Bal Bum dudes chanting….beep beep beep, beeeep beeeep – The sound of India!

Today is also my nephew Ayden’s birthday all the way in Switzerland, sending him a lot of love and music for his first year on the planet 🙂 

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