Varanasi - Last stop
"Om Namah Shivaya...Om Namah Shivaya...Om Namah Shivaya" (literally in Sanskrit "I bow to you Shiva") is the most common mantra heard and repeated anywhere in Varanasi, the home of Shiva, the sacred city according to the Hindus, the place to go to die by being cremated to stop the cycle of rebirths and be reunited directly with the universe and the cosmos created by God Shiva freeing the soul to heaven.
There is only one place where this happens, the Manikarnika Ghat, one of many Ghat (derived from the english word "gate") which give access to the Ganges, the sacred river, the river of life, mama Ganga, where every Hindu is immersed in its waters to purify the soul from sins and be forgiven.
When you arrive at the Manikarnika Ghat the atmosphere is surreal, it has not absolutely the feeling of being in a macabre place as they are burned the bodyes. The ceremonies which take place continuously from morning to night, 24h-24h, every day for centuries, are carried out in an extremely normal atmosphere, under the gaze of passers-by, onlookers, tourists, stray animals, children and of course the families of the deceased, all busy in something, those who pass by there, who carries something, the seller, who cleans, who beg, those who drink chai (the typical Indian tea made from milk), who talk, those who work, those who play, in short it is a ceremony extremely sacred to its meaning in a very normal and daily context in the life of Varanasi.
After a while we witness the ceremonies, since they occur 4/5 simultaneously, you begin to understand the ritual, the sequence of actions, then more than someone approaches you to give explanations, sometimes with the second goal to seek offer with the purchase of firewood excuse for those who do not can afford it. It can safely be stationed on the steps of the Ghat on the terraces or in the surrounding area for a panoramic view of the blazing wooden pyres on the banks of the Ganges, it observes what happens sometimes dipped in soot carried by the wind, away from the horn of a busy city, chaotic, sprawling, with the curiosity that you can have for something never seen before but especially with the reflections that each one is led to ask for what you are seeing and what they think in relation to the concept of death and what, if any, can there after.
The Hindu belief is that by being cremated in the city of Varanasi is to interrupt the cycle of rebirth thus freeing the soul in heaven or you go to reconnect directly with Shiva, with the universe he created. No reincarnation, no new ground loop. Varanasi, last stop.