Well, Kashi is city of very interesting things. People come here- to die, to perform rituals, to pray, to get married, to smoke, to experience and what not! One evening I was walking back from Asi ghat to Dashashwamedha ghat and was immersed in some thought. I was walking near the Harishchandra ghat and a big crowd screaming with excitement brought me back to the world! Curious I was went looking for the reason for that kind of excitement near a cremation ground. Yes! Harishchandra ghat is a cremation ground. (Read more about Varanasi Ghats here)
There was a burning pyre and there were people with sadness highlighting their faces. And right beside them was the crowd of 50-60 people cheering! Then I see a ram fight going on! Well, ram fight and so is betting. Two rams were dressed, one in black and another one in white for identification. Rams were ramming into each others heads. As the fight went fierce the screaming went louder. Cheering people moved with the fighting rams. Nobody seemed to care that they are in a cremation ground with a burning pyre. Nobody seemed to have sense of time and place. (More pictures of Varanasi here)
I asked one onlooker how could people behave like this in a cremation ground. He asked me what is wrong in that?! Kashi is a Great Cremation ground. There are burning pyres 24X7. People of Kashi cannot be sad and grumpy all the time, they deserve to have some fun! People of Kashi are happy for the ones who die and get cremated here on the ghats, because the dead are attaining moksha and directly going heaven! So, celebrate death! I got the answer to my long standing question- What is Rudramaya?
Rudra- a fierce form of Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction. Maya- the illusion. Being in Kashi is considered to be soaked in the illusion of Rudra, where death is not sad but a celebration because at death the soul is absorbed into Rudra himself! The people who live in the city are considered fortunate for they are always immersed in that rudramaya. And people who visit these ghats feel the vastness of the sacred river, sense that something immense and start seeing the invisible and that is Rudramaya!
I too watched the fight for sometime. Initially took few pictures. It was very painful to watch when one of the rams became unstable, may be it had a broken skull?! But, the brave aries was still trying to stand without taking the defeat. Sun was sinking behind the ghats. I was thinking about the ram fight and people of Kashi all along the walk back to main ghat for Ganga Arti at 6:00PM. I will never forget the evening at Harishchandra Ghat. And that makes Kashi special.
Had you been to Kashi? How was your experience?
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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.