In Pashupatinath, cremation is carried out in Arya Ghat, an open arrangement on the bank of the holy Bagmati river.
Dead bodies are burnt on pyre, in the presence of family members. Besides dense smoke that comes from the burnt pyres, there is la lot of sadness & pain.
Yet Hindus follow a belief that death should not mean desperation but rather, freedom. It is transformation from the old to the new.
Once the body is burnt, the soul releases to a holy place. The ceremony is different for women than for men. Bodies of women get burnt first from the footboard; in contrast to men being lit from the face. The fire used is from the temple, and considered holy and pure.
This peaceful place somehow also carries deep sadness and pain. You will see a lot of people crying for their lost family and relatives.
I did not feel like invading these ceremonies with my camera, since the people here were in mourning and going through a hard enough time. I felt everyone should respect this part of the Hindu religion, without taking pictures, even from far off.
In the centre of this spread out structure, there is a big temple called Pashupatinath Mandir. Only Hindu people can enter this temple. From inside of the temple you are just above Bagmati River as well as the Arya Ghat.
On the opposite there is a hill. Up the hill you will find several temples as well, but only Hindu people have access.
On top of the hill there is another small temple called Goraknath Mandir. Nearby, there are several houses hosting Sadhus – both travelling and local.
The Sadhus came from India originally. But as they worship Lord Shiva, and since Pashupatinath is the holiest Shiva temple in Asia, Nepal has been selected as one of their famous destinations.
Most of them have long dreadlocks. The Sadhus are probably used to tourists visiting this place. Many of them are willing to take a picture with you for a little money.
I found this place to be very interesting. On the one hand there is a lot of sadness, on the other hand there are old Sadhus willing to take pictures with you for money. I somehow felt, this place covers ideologies of religion, belief as well as of modern economy.
Story & Photography: Christian Wilk
(Christian Wilk is a German citizen, currently working as a photography intern, under the guidance of professional photographer Mr. Kumar Ale at NepalSutra™).