This film was made on the basis of photos and videos taken during the trip India • Rajasthan and Varanasi (EN)
Reading the text below will help you better understand the cultural context of the images in this video.
00:31 • the fire
03:05 • the water
05:05 • the Ghats
10:08 • nocturnal ceremonies
12:25 • the flower market
13:43 • the city
Varanasi or Benares
Benares, now renamed as Varanasi is the holiest city of two of the oldest religions in India, Hinduism and Jainism. Varanasi is a city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh located on the Ganges, itself the most sacred of the 7 sacred rivers of India.
The city was founded in the 11th century BCE, making it one of the oldest permanently inhabited cities in the world.
Dying in the holy city and seeing its ashes scattered in the holiest of rivers offers Hindus a passport to the afterlife and delivers them from the eternal cycle of reincarnation. Many people come to Varanasi for the cremation of their dead.
It was also in the vicinity of Varanasi, in Sarnath, that Buddha gave his first sermon after his enlightenment which took place in Bodhgaya.
Varanasi's turbulent history
The city being one of the great symbols of Hinduism, it is not surprising that the Muslims have not ceased to attack it, way to destroy it. The first destruction by a Muslim dynasty took place in 1033. The temples were destroyed and their stones used for the construction of mosques. In the centuries that followed, other expeditions damaged Varanasi. The last was organized by Aurangzseb, son of Jahan Shah, builder of the Taj Mahal and himself sponsor of the Bibi qa Makbara in Aurangabad, a pale imitation of the mausoleum of his father's wife. Aurangzeb pushed the provocation to rename Benares in Mohammadabad.
This periodic destruction explains the scarcity of old monuments in one of the oldest cities in the world.
Monuments of the city
The most famous architectural achievements are undoubtedly the 84 ghats stretching over nearly 7 kilometers on the left bank of the Ganges. The ghats are the stone stairs that give access to the sacred river.
Among these ghats, two are reserved for the cremation of the dead.
The city of Varanasi, hosting many cremations, has specialized in flowers to accompany the deceased in the afterlife. Several flower markets thrive inside the city.
Another flourishing trade, also linked to cremation, is that of wood. As we approach the ghats, we can see huge piles of wood which will be lit under the bodies of the deceased.
The city of Varanasi does not live only on death and redemption assured to those who have the good idea to pass away here. One of the specialties of Varanasi is silk and its derivatives such as saris. The musical instruments of Benares are also famous, as are the jewelers and sculptors of the city.
But, as in many famous places, even if they are sacred, the most profitable savings are that of tourism.
about the place, Varanasi:
Bénarès which was renamed Varanasi is reputed to be the oldest city in the world still inhabited.
It is also the most sacred of the 7 sacred cities of Hinduism and Jainism (Sapta Pur).
These 7 cities are Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh), Mathura (Uttar Pradesh), Haridwar (Uttarakhand), Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh), Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu), Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) and Dwarka (Gujarat).
Varanasi is located on the banks of the Ganges, the sacred river par excellence of India. The city has about 1,300,000 inhabitants.
As Varanasi is THE sacred city located on THE sacred river, the Hindus are keen to be cremated in this city because it brings them closer to the gods and Nirvana. The cremations on the Ghats of Varanasi take place every day from sunrise to sunset.
Spoken comments in the film:
Fire • With the exception of babies, pregnant women, lepers,cobra bite deaths and sadhus, the dead are burned and their ashes thrown into the Ganges.
Those which are not burned are directly thrown into the Ganges.
Holy city of Hinduism on the banks of the Ganges, Varanasi (Benares) is the place chosen by Hindus who can to die. Dying in Varanasi breaks the cycle of reincarnation and enables the attainment of Moksha.
Water • The Ganges (Mother Ganga) is the most sacred river of the Hindus. The scattering of ashes in the Ganges frees the soul of the deceased.
The market • A city that has such a large number of daily cremations must have a flower market worthy of the name.
What's the weather like in Varanasi?
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Disclaimer: Despite its appropriateness, copyright issues prevent the use of indian traditional music in "Varanasi (Benares), India's holiest city • Uttar Pradesh, India", hence the use of royalty-free music. Despite our careful selection, some might regret this decision, which is necessary to avoid potential lawsuits. Although difficult, this decision is the only viable solution.