quinta-feira, 28 de junho de 2012

Dead Bodies

It's not often I see dead bodies floating in rivers.

Life and death swirl coexist here. Anna and I have seen the same puppies, no more than 4 weeks old, playing in the street and greedily nuzzling their mama for more milk. Every day bodies wrapped in orange colored cloth are paraded through these very same streets to the Ganges, where they will be cremated in a public ceremony. Then they are tossed in the river. The environmentalist side of me thinks "Well, matter is never created nor destroyed. After all, it is just a body being returned to its' basic elements..." but the squeamish girl in me kinda freaks out.

Two days ago Anna and I took a boat ride on the Ganges. We left at 5 AM when it was cooler. People were already up and bathing in the river. We watched people wash their clothes, smacking sari's and pants against rocks, wringing them out then hanging them on long wire lines. We listened to prayers chanted. Our eyes followed candles flanked by marigolds tossed into the river on leaf boats. The Ganges swelled with the music, the colors, the sewage. The bodies. Not everyone is cremated. Children under 7 years old, pregnant women, anyone who died of a snake bite, lepers, and sadhu's (similar to priests) are not cremated. Their bodies are wrapped then tossed into the river with stones for weights. Sometimes the stones come loose and bodies float to the surface. This doesn't seem to phase anyone. Except the little girl inside of me who read waaay to many Fear Street and Goosebumps books.

That's the dead body, next to the white boat.

Other tourists rising early.

Another dead body. 

Laundry day in the Ganges River.

Candle flanked by marigolds.

Our boat-rower.

Our offering- candle and marigolds.

But there it is, death: fecal matter, dead bodies, dead cows. And life: puppies, yogurt lassi's, coconut trees.

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