<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Evanescent Light : Veranasi


evanescent
: fleeting, transitory
evanescent wave: a nearfield standing wave, employed for total internal reflection microscopy

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Veranasi

Varanasi, Benaras or Kashi, on the banks of the Ganga, one of the most sacred pilgrimages to Hindus also happens to be one of the oldest, continually inhibited cities in the world. Named in reference to the confluence of the rivers Varuna and Assi, Varanasi is a melting pot of religion, mythology, spirituality,

A short flight from Delhi and overnight stay in Varanasi—the holiest of India’s cities— provided us the chance for an evening boat ride to experience the sights and sounds of this iconic location and a photo shoot of the famous Ghats. We also had a great opportunity to photograph the sunset Aarti ceremony, where priests burn offerings of incense and set huge butter lamps ablaze on the shores of the Ganges River.

 


The Burning Ghat - Varanasi’s famous cremation ghat, which runs 24/7, burning hundreds of bodies a day in plain sight

"Funeral practices vary worldwide. Of those I’ve witnessed, few are as transparent and raw as the Hindu ritual on the banks of the Ganges River. The Hindu believe that if a deceased’s ashes are laid in the Ganges at Varanasi, their soul will be transported to heaven and escape the cycle of rebirth. In a culture that believes in reincarnation, this concept called moksha is profound. The holier the place, the better the chances you achieve moksha and avoid returning to Earth as a cow or a cricket in your next life."
[
Peter Mcbride; Nat. Geo.]

 

We had a great opportunity to photograph the sunset Aarti ceremony, where priests burn offerings of incense and set huge butter lamps ablaze on the shores of the Ganges River.

The Aarti ceremony takes place on seven wooden platforms placed on the edge of the steps of Dasawamedh Ghat. On each wooden platform, there are small tables covered with saffron colour silk clothes with Pooja (prayer) items, that include a conch shell, incense sticks, praying bells, handkerchiefs,  large brass lamps with snake hood, flowers, water pot, yak-tail fan, peacock’s feather etc.  Each of these item is considered  very sacred in Hindu Mythology. Young priests, students of Vedas and Upanishads, perform the whole Aarti ritual in a well choreographed manner with a great synchronization.

The ceremony begins at sunset, so at first a little light remained in the sky, but it soon became possible to photograph the performers by the light of their lamps.

 

 

Our accommodation for the night at Varanasi was the Brijrama Palace Hotel. Majestically facing the Ganga at the Darbhanga Ghat, the original structure was built in 1812 by Shridhara Narayana Munshi (Munshi Ghat, adjacent to the palace is named after him), the then minister for the estate of Nagpur. In 1915, King Rameshwar Singh Bahadur of Darbhanga (Bihar) acquired the palace. Post 1915, the second floor of the palace was constructed and an elevator — one of the first in Asia — was installed.


 

The morning of day three dawned with a sunrise boat tour that offered many unique angles for capturing the myriad morning rituals that take place along the shore of the Ganges. Back on shore, we also photographed the bustling streets markets of Varanasi.






created 03/15/2019

IanParker
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University of California,
Irvine, CA 92697

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