Sunday, June 10, 2007


At an Indian hostel, guests check in to die

‘After checking in at the Mukti Bhawan hostel, guests have two weeks to die or else they are gently asked to leave.

The hostel — a short walk from the Ganges river in the northern Indian city of Varanasi — is a final stopover for elderly Hindus hoping they will shortly end up on one of the hundreds of funeral pyres lit on the riverbank each day.

“While the rest of the world celebrates a new life when a child is born, similarly we celebrate death,” said Bhairav Nath Shukla, the cheerful manager of Mukti Bhawan, one of several places offering shelter to outsiders wanting to die in the city.

Hindus believe that dying in Varanasi and having their remains scattered in the Ganges allows their soul to escape a cycle of death and rebirth, attaining “moksha” or salvation.’

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