Burning is learning or cremation is education as the locals will tell you along the ghats of Varanasi. This ancient city on the banks of the holy Ganges is a place of pilgrimage, especially for the dying. Death in Varanasi guarantees liberation (moksha) from the cycle of life (samsara). There are two burning ghats in
A couple of kilometres outside the town of Gondar sits Fasilidas’ Bath, a complex built around a sunken pool which may have served as the Emperor’s second home. This, as it has for centuries, acts as the focal point for Gondar’s celebration of Timket, the Ethiopian Church’s Epiphany. Timket is played out as a symbolic
Tigray is sadly best known in the developed world for its famines and as the war-torn front in the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. What it should be known for, however, is its 120 rock-hewn churches; some dating back to the 5th century, hidden away on mountain-tops and built into caves on high cliff faces.
Twice I’ve visited Lalibela for ‘Genna’ and the scene is truly awe-inspiring. Around 100,000 pilgrims, largely the rural poor, many of whom have walked for weeks, often barefoot, arrive to celebrate the Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas. As the local villagers feed them, they camp where they can, often sleeping shoulder to shoulder on whatever bare patch
Many holy men inhabit the ghats of Varanasi. These sadhus, often dressed in saffron coloured clothes, are sanyasi – men who have renounced material attachments in their quest for moksha, the liberation from the cycle of life. Having wandered all over the subcontinent many pass through and some settle in Varanasi, where meditation and daily