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Dark Times—Burning Times

USA | Saturday, 1 May 2021 | Views [115]

Cremation in Varanasi in better times

Cremation in Varanasi in better times

THE ACTION IN VARANASI TAKES PLACE along the ghats, long stretches of concrete stairs leading from the maze of alleys to the river itself.  Stairways, as it were, down to heaven.  Beginning in the early morning, hoards of devoted Hindus descend the stairs to perform their daily ablutions, cleansing both the body and soul—though I question how clean the filthy water could make the body. 


       Morning Ablutions

Evening along the Ganges seems to be more about tourists—Indian and foreigners alike—who clamber onboard rickety rowboats for an evening cruise and river views of the ghats.  Nighttime is good for seeing the “burning ghats” where cremations take place.  It is considered especially symbolic to have your cremated remains deposited into the Ganges—symbolic if not sanitary.  Firewood for the pyre is calculated on the size of the deceased; you don’t want to pay for extra wood but you need enough to do the job. (From our March, 2014 entry; journals.worldnomads.com/vagabondstoo)



             Dark Times/Burning Times (photo from Internet)

WITH WORLDWIDE COVID CASES topping 150 million and more than 3,000,000 fatalities, all eyes turn to India. Coronavirus is raging out of control, new cases are setting records every day, hospitals have run out of oxygen and the death rate is over 3000 per day. Bodies pile up awaiting cremation and mourners are told to bring their own wood for the pyre.


                  Firewood=Pyrewood   (photo from Internet)

Now consider this: Despite the recent vaccination success, the United States, with ¼ the population of India has reported nearly twice the number of cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic began—that’s 7X more per 1000 population than India. More than twice as many Americans as Indians have died from the disease—ten times the rate in India. The US isn’t better at dealing with Covid, just better at getting rid of the bodies!



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