I am a freelance photographer and visual artist based in Saint-Petersburg, Russia working with National Geographic Russia, VICE UK/USA, De Volkskrant, Takie Dela, Meduza, Novaya Gazeta, others. My photographic practice primarily focuses on the...
Indian Varanasi is called the "city of the dead": sacred cremations take place there. Ghats of the Ganges (the place of descent to the river) are used both for mass bathing sessions and for ritual farewells of the dead to another world.
Manikarnika Ghat is the oldest Indian crematorium, one of the 84 Varanasi ghats, the place where, according to legend, the universe will burn at the end of time. The place where the smell of burning bodies and aromatic oils hung in the air. The place of grief, but also joy for the release of the soul of a loved one who died. This is an incredible paradox.
I have long dreamed of shooting a sacred cremation, I was attracted by the spirituality, versatility and complexity of the process, the ancient traditions and legends that underlie the ritual of cremation, and Manikarnika became an ideal place. Early in the morning, on my way to the embankment, I squized through the crowd of locals and finally felt the heat of the scared fires.
I stood and looked at this death festival, and it simply fascinated me.