Dear Family and Friends,
We had a great experience in Varanasi. We were able to witness one of the city's most wonderful scenes...evening prayers on the sacred Ganges river. Along with the Taj Mahal, the evening prayers and morning sunrise on the Ganges is a must see when visiting India.
Our tour bus could not take us all the way to the Ganges ghats (steps.) He let us off and we had a good walk through a small part of the city leading to the ceremonial steps.
Even though it was dark, some photos of this walking street turned out okay.
One really nice thing about India is the beautiful material available.
It wasn't just us tourists who appreciated the colorful store fronts.
As we got close to the steps of the Ganges, people were already getting ready for the evening service.
Our guide led us out on the beach of the river and we got in a boat. This was probably a good idea because it was so crowded with people on shore that he would probably have lost some of us.
Once in the boat, we were rowed to the spot where evening prayers are said. There were hundreds of boats besides ours. Thousands of people were on shore behind the ceremony. This is a big deal that takes place every evening in Varanasi.
After the spiritual experience of the ceremony, our guide passed out tiny candles and we took a minute to look into ourselves and then set them to float away on the river. It was an amazing experience.
Before going back to shore, we were taken to one of the places where bodies are cremated on the Ganges. This river is considered very sacred by the Hindu and having your remains cremated here is an honor. Our tour guide told us that there are cremations going on around the clock. Some people, who know their time has come, will travel to Varanasi to die just so they can be cremated here.
We didn't get too close out of respect for the families. There were four or five bodies being cremated while we were there.
The whole experience was very spiritual. It gave me a renewed sense of being mortal. This is definitely the place to come if you want to experience the spiritual India.
Next post I will share about experiencing the sun rise on the Ganges, also a very spiritual experience.