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20 September 2017

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08/24/2016 INDIA

Varanasi, as Ganges overflows, the dead cremated on rooftops

Rains fall relentlessly for over two months. In Uttar Pradesh they have killed 40 people and forced at least another 100 thousand to flee their homes. For Hindus, a funeral rite on the banks of the sacred river frees the body from the cycle of rebirth.

Lucknow (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The incessant monsoon rains that have been falling for two months in central India have forced Hindus to disrupt the funeral rites on the banks of the Ganges.

Varanasi, the holy city for the Hindu religion (in the state of Uttar Pradesh), is in fact covered by water and the river, where funerals are celebrated, is inacessabile. For this reason the faithful were forced to prepare the funeral pyres on the roofs of private homes.

Shailendra Pandey, spokesman for the state government, said that the ghats [the steps leading to the river] can not be used, therefore, "the cremations are being carried out on the roofs of houses arranged along the river, but with great difficulty".

Varanasi is crossed by the most sacred river in the Hindu religion, whose waters are used for purification and ablutions. The faithful believe that celebrating a burial ritual on the Ganges rids the body of the deceased from the cycle of rebirths.

Witnesses say that similar rains have not "been seen since 1978. The level of the Ganges has grown, the banks are flooded. People pray in the houses or in flooded streets".

The monsoon season falls from July to September. But the intensity of this year's rainfall is quite exceptional and has caused severe damage to both population and infrastructure.

In Uttar Pradesh in recent days at least 40 people have died and 100 thousand were displaced. In the states of Bihar and Assam there are other 150 victims and at least two million people forced to flee their homes. The floods also caused the collapse of a highway bridge between Mumbai and Goa, and the death of about twenty passengers traveling on two buses swallowed by the waters below.






See also

14/07/2011 INDIA
A billion dollars to clean up a filthy Ganges
The river worshipped by Hindus and vital to India is now an open sewer, full of faecal bacteria, unfit for bathing or farming. Now the World Bank will fund a restoration project, but experts express doubts about its success.

14/07/2017 10:01:00 INDIA
Environmental court bans dumping of trash and bodies in the Ganges

The ordinance applies to within 500 meters of the shore. You cannot build within 100 meters. Fines of up to 680 euros for those who break the rules. The leather-making industries in Uttar Pradesh will need to be moved. Ban on setting corpses afloat in river as per Hindus funerary tradition



18/06/2013 INDIA
Floods in India: more than 65 dead and 60 thousand people trapped by mud
The most affected areas are Uttarkhand (40 victims) and Uttar Pradesh (18), in the north of the country. Tens of thousands of pilgrims blocked. Heavy rains will continue for at least two days, flooding of the Ganges feared.

14/01/2013 INDIA
India, 10 million pilgrims expected for the beginning of the Kumbh Mela
For 55 days, more than 100 million Hindus will bathe in the holy waters of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Sarawati. The Kumbh Mela falls every 12 years and is one of the most important Hindu festivals. Hygiene alarm: the high rate of pollution of waterways, the authorities have set up field hospitals and toilets.

22/03/2017 15:41:00 INDIA
The Ganges is a "living being." Raghuvanshi: historic decision, pulls wool from eyes of Hindu nationalists

The High Court of Uttarakhand equates the waters of the sacred river for Hindus to a human being. The goal is to reduce the pollution caused by industrialization and urbanization. Indian activist: "The Hindu radicals use pollution to come to power." The courts must also take action for Dalits who live on the river banks.




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