2016 / Editorial / Photo Essay

The Last Journey

  • Photographer
    Debasish Ghosh

Manikarnika Ghat at Varanasi, India is one of the oldest and sacred Ghats for Hindus and it is believed those who die and cremated here gets immediate liberation from the endless cycle of rebirths. The cremation process must be completed correctly or the soul will not find the afterlife. The family member of the deceased carry the body on a bamboo stretcher wrapped in white cloth with an orange drape covered with flowers and garlands. During the cremation ritual the bodies are immersed in the holy Ganges to cleanse them from their sins. The body is then dried and placed on the wood pyre for cremation. The elder male member of the family presides over the cremation ceremony and shaves his head as a sign of respect. The pyre is then lighted up using burning straw. According to Hindu belief after cremation the soul is purified and unites with Lord Shiva. It is believed by the people that the pyres at Manikarnika ghat burns day and night throughout the year.

Debasish is a documentary photographer and has been working on various projects of Tradition & Cultures, Spot News and Long-Term projects for more than a decade. His much-noted work on Bellandur lake pollution Bangalore, Karnataka, India was published worldwide.