2019 © Copyright Victoria Knobloch Fine Art Black&White Photography

Lux Aeterna

Pashupatinath in Kathmandu / Nepal - A Hindu temple complex with a public crematorium. Here, the dead are handed over to the glowing fire and their bodies go up in smoke.
 

In contrast to western tradition, here everything happens in public and nothing is hidden and concealed behind the thick walls of a crematorium. Public cremation on a funeral pile could leave a strange and almost shocking impression with westerners, but here it is daily routine.
 

In Pashupatinath, even though it's a centerpiece of death, one feels no despair. Death here does not mean the ultimate end but is seen as a transition from an old form of existence to a new one. In the burning process the soul gets released and is ready for rebirth. The relatives look calm during the incineration, because they believe that consciousness leaves the body and lives on. Of course, they also feel pain in the loss of a loved one, but they remain self-composed and hopeful.
 

The cremation ground of Pashupatinath is blessed and very special, because it is located next to the holy river Bagmati. It is a great honor for Hindus that their dead bodies can be cremated here. Before combustion the body is sprinkled with the holy water and the ashes get scattered in the river at the end of the burning process. Water here is seen as a symbol of "flow of the eternal existence" and death is part of a continuous cycle of infinity.