India VaranasiAdd to Lightbox Download
Hindus gather and wash along India's Ganges River in their holiest city, Varanasi (formerly Banaras). Varanasi is principally known to travelers for its ghats (stone steps leading directly into the water). Most ghats are used for ritual bathing. Hindu pilgrims, while standing waist high in the water, pray to cleanse their souls as they face the rising sun.Varanasi also has cremation ghats because Hindus believe that those who die and are cremated in Varanasi go directly to heaven, bypassing the lengthy reincarnation process. First the dead are burned on riverside pyres, then their ashes are scattered on the sacred Ganges River.
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