Overseeing the eternal flame, where there is no rebirth

A very worthwhile read from the New York Times over the weekend about a woman who oversees the holiest crematorium in Varansi.

(I won’t mention, again, that this summer’s Namarupa Yatra includes time in Varansi.)

From the piece:

Everyone around her calls her a funeral director, a job she inherited from her husband, who died three decades ago. When Doms die, usually another male family member takes over the business of the final rites, but Ms. Devi decided to take on her husband’s work to support her two young sons.

“My life is to live in a world of death,” Ms. Devi said in an interview earlier this month, sitting on a torn mat in a courtyard filled with smoke and surrounded by walls coated with soot accumulated over decades.

She spends more than 10 hours daily at the ghat, or bathing place near a river, in Manikarnika. An estimated 100 bodies are cremated daily at Manikarnika, where a pyre burns 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Across Varanasi, nearly 200 bodies are burned every day.

Manikarnika may ring a few translation bells, if you think about your closing asanas. Yes: ears — earrings, to be precise. The story is that the ghat formed from an earring that fell of Shiva as he was dancing.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

One thought on “Overseeing the eternal flame, where there is no rebirth”

  1. Wow what a job that woman and her son’s have. Too bad they’re treated like shit by general society because of their cast. These people are heroes in my eyes!

    “Ms. Devi said she wanted her two sons to become doctors or engineers, but the boys were routinely taunted and ostracized at school because of their caste. Eventually, they came back to Manikarnika to help their mother.

    “A Dom’s life is valued only at the crematorium because people are uncomfortable handling a dead body,” she said, chuckling.”

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