The first time I visited Varanasi ten years ago, I was surprised at how happy this city made me feel. Life revolves around death in Varanasi, as you might know, but that's not as gloomy as it sounds! Here, death is the big attraction. After all: entering Nirvana at the end of a long life is something to celebrate. I felt ‘respired’. When I got to shoot stills and 2nd camera for a TV-show ‘Verlossing in Varanasi’ I was lucky to meet the people that keep the fire burning. I felt happy to visit Kashi, Benares, Varanasi once again.
Believers say that those who are cremated on the Burning Ghat, attain Moksha: freedom from the endless cycle of birth and death. In the maze-like alleys surrounding the ghats, old people's homes, ashrams and death hotels, everywhere people are awaiting Moksha. Many have traveled for days to end their journey of life in Varanasi. They have embraced their nearing deaths, which they hope will come very soon. There is no grieving and no mourning. Old, local residents also prefer to stay as close to the Ganges as possible. Some don't even ever leave the city in fear of missing out on a run at Moksha.
Varanasi people are either eagerly awaiting Moksha or making a living out of it. Sometimes a very nice one, like Dom Raja
Varanasi feels like a year-round festival where dead bodies, all colorfully decorated and covered in flower petals, crowd surf through the narrow alleyways. The main stage is Manikarnika Ghat: the famous Burning Ghat and the largest crematorium ground in the world.