Rain-induced floods have wreaked havoc in the eastern districts of Uttar Pradesh. While many have fled their inundated homes for safer areas, the swelling River Ganga has now also led to the abrupt ending of a centuries old tradition.
The Manikarnika Ghat, famous for being the cremation site where funeral pyres never stop burning, is now under water.
The Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi. HT
This has forced officials to shift cremation activities in the dingy lanes of the ghats since the Manikarnika Ghat cannot be used till the water recedes.
Manikarnika Ghat, an ‘Ashtadash Shaktipeeth
’ is considered a sacred cremation site, which is why people from across the state and neighbouring Bihar come for cremation of their dear ones at the site.
One of the oldest ghats in the ancient Hindu holy city, it is believed that anyone whose funeral is held at Manikarnika Ghat attains salvation.
The closure of the ghat for cremation on Saturday caused chaos especially because the electric crematorium at nearby Harishchandra Ghat too was closed by the district administration on Friday. Flood situation in eastern UP is grim resulting in loss of property. Worst affected have been riverine districts like Varanasi, Allahabad, and Ghazipur because of the River Ganga and its tributaries flowing in spate. Officials have warned that the flood waters will rise to 71.9 mtrs by August 21 morning, well above the danger mark of 71.26 mtrs.