I have to wake up early. Luckily my hosts at NamaSTAY Varanasi have a coffee ready before I leave. Because at a quarter past five I meet my guide Chandan at Kashi Cafe, the most famous Cafe in Varanasi. We start the day with a cup of chai before we walk to Assi Ghat, where the morning aarti takes place, the daily ritual to honor the Ganges at (in this case) sunrise. A number of priests stand in front of the Ganges and move around a kind of lit candlestic, under the guidance of vocals and the sound of bells. Very impressive! Also the preceding mantra singing by young girls was special to watch.
After this we take a boat for a trip on the Ganges. Chandan tells a lot about the history of Varansi. It turns out that the palaces we see were once built by Kings from all over India. Nowadays. many of these beautiful buildings serve as a hotel. We also pass a school where young boys are trained to become priests. We see the boys in their orange clothes doing their morning yoga and meditations.
Of course we also sail along the Burning Gats. We are not allowed to get very close, but we can still see the Ghat with the firewood and plumes of smoke from the cremations.
There is so much to see. Life along the ghats that slowly comes alive . All the colorful people practising yoga, meditation, say their prayers and that a bath. And of course the beautiful sunrise!
Finally, I buy a bowl of flowers from a woman in a small boat to sacrifice. I release the bowl gently on the water.
Written by Clementine Hoolwerf, a guest of NamaSTAY