Friday, March 20, 2009

Ganges Evening Ceremony

Last night we got on a rickety boat in the Ganges River. (ow to be precise it is not the Ganges River. The river is the Ganga River. To show respect or honor, Indians add "gig" pronounced "gee" to the end of a word. For example Ghandi would be Ghandigig (Ghandi-gee) When the British came, they said Ganges rather than Ganga-gee. So now you have your Indian trivia for the day.) We saw the cremation places (no pictures allowed out of respect for the deceased) They cremate 300-400 bodies a day. It is important to be cremated here (I'll explain in person - too long for a post) so they cremate 24 hours a day - only place that does that. It was a very moving time to see how it is done. There was a small boy who was there to probably cremate his father. Then we moved back down river for the ceremony for thanking the Ganges for the day. This is a very precisely done ceremony and it is done every night. It concerns singing, blowing the cong, ringing bells and using incense and smoke and then lights. Very beautiful ceremony. There are two places on the river doing the same thing at basically the same thing but of course not together. Everyone has bells to ring. At one point I called it a cacaphony of sound (which is mild to say the least) The guide was excellent at explaining everything going on. There were about 100,000 people on the banks and in boats. I have no idea how many boats but one could have just walked from boat to boat to boat. Before the ceremony was over our boat began to make its way to shore so we could leave before the other 99,999, 985 people! :-)

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