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Indian Ocean, the ultimate point of dissolution and regeneration for king and commoner alike.

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His face wet and distorted with grief, his hand full of straw shaking so badly they had trouble lighting it with the fire they brought from home, the

devoted to cremations. A bridge divides the royal site upriver, from the commoner cremation sites downriver. The Baghmati feeds into the Ganges, which spills out into the

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river emerges from the first range of the Himalayas. Don was finishing his book on death,

The men, kinsmen and friends of the dead man, did almost all of the ritual work. They lifted the body onto a stretcher so they Nike Sportswear Windrunner Jacket could purify the corpse in Ganges water.

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white flowers stretched along the length of the body. It had been deposited at

one can get anywhere near a cremation ground with a camera. But here in Katmandu we witnessed our first complete cremation, and it remains among the most moving

without success. There was almost always a body burning, but we never arrived in time for the ritual itself, when the chief mourner, usually the son, touches the torch to the wood as

for which he had been born: to light his father's funeral fire.

the top of the steps leading down to the Baghmati River, as if abandoned. No one seemed to be tending to it, no one sat beside it grieving, passers by did not glance at it. A

few yards away women were shampooing their hair and washing pots in the river, indifferent to its presence.

respect undid his composure. Nike Hoodie With Zipper Pocket

Editor's Note: Anthropologist Carolyn Brown Heinz was in Nepal during the last week of a research trip to northern India, where she was researching the lives of women

ascetics, when she and her husband, Donald Heinz, dean of HFA, experienced a ritual cremation. She generously agreed to share her story of the event, rare for a Western visitor.

in any town in India, actually witnessing, let alone photographing, a cremation is not easy. For me, a woman anthropologist, there are gender problems; wo men do not go to

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experiences of my life.

They carried it to the bier and laid the body on top, headed downstream. They opened the shroud to expose his face to the sun, also a god. Each man circumambulated the

his supreme and final filial act.

do pranam to his father's feet for the last time. This simple, everyday gesture of

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We had spent the previous six weeks down on the plains of North India. I had been interviewing women ascetics at Rishikesh, a sacred city on the Ganges where the

It was on the downstream side of the bridge that we encountered the solitary body, wrapped and waiting for its destruction by flames. Before long, the family arrived,

with the wife and daughter. Finally the son was led forward, clutching a bundle of straw, to

We had stopped at Pashupatinath, an ancient temple complex in Katmandu whose principal deities are Shiva and Kali. The long stretch along Nike Dri Fit Tracksuit Mens

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were led into an alcove where they could watch and cry in private. The only son, dressed in white dhoti and head scarf and struggling to keep emotional control, awaited the task

the Baghmati River is

body, adding ghi [clarified butter] and sprinkling a little purifying water on the face of the corpse. The dead man's brother broke down in sobs and had to be led into the alcove

A Hindu Cremation in Nepal

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Although seeing corpses being carried to cremation grounds on stretchers accompanied by the slightly frantic chant of "Ram Ram satya hai" is a common sight and sound

Don and I, however, were electrified. We were to leave Katmandu later in the day, and had come here several times for an opportunity to witness a cremation, but

The corpse was wrapped in a white cotton cloth overlaid in an ochre one. A garland of small Nike Long Sleeve Collar Shirt

including the widow and daughter. The widow, newly robed in white, stood alone in front of her dead husband and wailed a long, mournful cry. Then she and her daughter

the cremation ground. They stay at home while the men take care of this terrible but essential ritual work. Photographing a cremation is yet another problem; at Banaras no

The Last Passage (just published by Oxford).

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