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Asthi Visarjan is a ceremony where the ashes of a loved one who has passed away are placed into a river, usually the Ganges, to free their soul from the cycle of life and death. It is a deeply meaningful ritual in Kashi, also known as Varanasi, because it is believed to have a special connection with Lord Shiva, who is a major deity in Hinduism associated with transformation and liberation.

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The Process of Asthi Visarjan in Varanasi

The Asthi Visarjan ceremony starts with cremating the person by the Ganges River. After cremation, the ashes, called "asthi," are put in a pot or urn, often decorated with flowers and red powder. Family and friends gather for a quiet walk to the river, singing, praying, and reading from holy books. When they reach the riverbank, they see many other ceremonies happening at the same time. The air smells of incense, and you can hear bells ringing and people chanting prayers, making it feel very spiritual. At the water's edge, a priest or someone from the family does rituals to bless the ashes. They offer flowers, grains, and clarified butter to honour the person who passed away and wish them a safe journey to the next life. Finally, they gently put the urn with the ashes into the river, showing that the person's soul is joining with the divine.

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Preparation:

Ash Collection: Gather the ashes and bones after cremation.

Choice of Location: Select a holy river or the sea for immersion.

Date and Time: Decide on timing based on consultation with a priest or auspicious dates.

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Ritual:

Purification: Purify with a dip into the river or other rituals.

Prayers and Mantras: Recite prayers and Vedic mantras for the departed soul.

Offerings: Present flowers, grains, and milk as offerings.

Immersion: Release ashes or symbolic offerings into the water.

Closure: Asthi Visarjan offers a sense of completion and tranquillity to the family, enabling them to say their ultimate goodbyes to their beloved and embrace the inherent rhythm of life and death.

Asthi Visarjan

Significance of Asthi Visarjan in Varanasi

The ritual of Asthi Visarjan carries immense spiritual significance in Hindu culture. It is believed that submerging the ashes of the departed in the sacred waters of the Ganges frees their soul from the cycle of rebirth, granting them Moksha, or liberation. Seen as a sacred duty and a final tribute to honour the deceased, it aids their journey to the afterlife. Varanasi holds a special place for devout Hindus to perform Asthi Visarjan, with its revered Ghats providing the ideal setting. Dashashwamedh Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, and Harishchandra Ghat are particularly cherished for this ritual. Manikarnika Ghat, associated with Lord Shiva's final rites, is especially auspicious for cremation ceremonies. During Asthi Visarjan in Varanasi, families gather along the Ghats, led by priests in prayers, hymns, and rituals, creating an atmosphere rich in spirituality and solemnity. The rhythmic chants of "Har Har Mahadev" resonate, invoking the divine presence of Lord Shiva, Varanasi's patron deity.

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Our view about Asthi Visarjan in Varanasi

Varanasi, renowned as the "City of Light" and "City of Salvation," holds deep cultural and spiritual importance in Hinduism, particularly through the ritual of Asthi visarjan. This ritual involves immersing cremated ashes, known as asthi, into the sacred waters of the Ganges River. Varanasi, situated on the Ganges' banks and one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities, is revered as a holy destination for Hindus. The belief is that the Ganges' waters possess purifying qualities that can grant moksha, liberation from the cycle of reincarnation to the departed souls.

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