It has been a long time since we had a reliable internet connection. Our hotel in Varanasi was always going to have a connection soon. Some time later was always named. Didn't happen.
We spent most of Sunday the 3rd of February with flights and connections to Varanasi. Check in is interminable and I have an upset stomach. Vomiting rates me a wheelchair and a fast ride through Amritsar Airport and then after a short hop to Delhi, I am wheeled through Delhi airport. Everyone in the group follows the path blazed by my wheelchair, jumping to the head of lines and making all our connections in a confusing Delhi Airport. We decide this is a great technique for getting through airports and I was fine the next day.
Monday morning the 4th we go for a sunrise boat ride on the River Ganges. We stop for our guide to purchase matching prayer shawls for us, so he can keep track of us. Herding our group is like herding cats.
|Our guide counts out the prayer shawls|
|wearing our shawls|
|A seller of Indian toothbrushes. Sticks of the neem tree are chewed and used to brush the teeth and gums when the end is softened.|
It is very important for a devout Hindu to be cremated on the Crematory steps on the bank of the river within 24 hours of death. The body is dipped in the river one last time and then placed on a pile of wood. Only male family members are present. Women would wail and keep the spirit from leaving. After the fire burns out the Crematory workers sweep the ashes into the river.
|Holy men going to the river|
|Color at the river|
|Bathing in the holy river|
|"Fortunate are the people who Reside on the banks of ganga (Ganges)"|
After breakfast we head out on the bus. We visit a Shiva Temple at Banaras Hindu University. This University is most well known as the site of Indian Institute of Technology, IIT. You all may know that Ashok, the intern in Dilbert, studied here.
We visit an archeology museum that contains wonderful statues of Buddha, then the site of the ancient monastery that was destroyed by the Mongols, where the statues were found, and a stupa shrine to Buddha on the site where he preached his first sermon about 24 precepts of education.
|At the archeology grounds|
|The stupa commemorating the first lecture of Buddha.|
We also stop to buy some silk brocade. I am going to improve the decor in our bedroom.
At night we take a pedi-cab ride through the old bazaar then down to the river for a boat ride to the Arti ceremony on the water. We say prayers and set lights out on the water. They drift off behind the boat. Ceremonies of lights, music, fire and dance are taking place on shore.