Dance to the funeral, a folklore at Varanasi

Women dance to the beats of Bollywood numbers while the dead bodies are being burnt at the cremation ground at night. It is a way that the people of Banaras try to appease Mahashmashan Nath who is the Lord of cremation ground by sex workers.

A group of sex workers dance preys after which prayers are offered at the temple of Mahashmashan Nath at Manikarnika Ghat, the vital crematory that of the city. On the seventh day of Chaitra Navratri, the annual tradition performance is witnessed, and Kashi is believed to be the land of Lord Vishwanath and death should not be considered as mournful because dying at Kashi is assumed to be achieving direct salvation or moksha.

Gulshan Kapoor, an organiser, claimed, “tradition is continuing for about five centuries. Raja Savai Man Singh of Amber, who had built Man Mandir Ghat in 1585 near Dashshwamedh Ghat, had also renovated the Mahashamshan Nath temple at Manikarnika Ghat. In Hindu tradition, it is common to hold music programme on special occasions”.

The sex workers at 8 pm come up to the ghat and dance before the lord after which the audience mostly the local people and tourists sing and dance on the bank of Ganga till midnight. Another set of tourists wonder about the clear show display by the locals and dancing without questioning about the fumes coming out of the dead bodies. The sex workers to enjoy the dance at the backdrop of death. A sex worker named Chanda feels it as an honour to dance during the event and believes that they have been there to wish and pray the lord and get blessings for a much better life in the next birth. They go there to have a better experience and at least once a year they go dancing there.


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