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Varanasi 瓦拉纳西

Varanasi 瓦拉纳西
(Author: Teacher Mark)

Varanasi is everything you imagine it to be. Water buffalo, narrow streets, garbage everywhere, religious ceremonies, death, ghats (steps that go down into the river).

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瓦拉纳西(印度东北部城市)是你能想象的所有东西。水牛,狭窄的街道,无处不在的垃圾,宗教仪式,死亡,石阶(沿河而下的台阶)。

Death is the most striking thing about Varanasi. It doesn’t matter how prepared you are, it’ll hit you. I stayed in a hotel right behind a crematorium at Harishchadra Ghat. There seemed to be a never ending stream of bodies coming in. Some bodies were carried in by groups of men on stretchers. Some bodies were tied to the roof of vehicles. Some bodies were carried down to the river to be burned on piles of wood. Some bodies were brought to the crematorium. Death never stops in Varanasi. You see it. You hear it. You breathe it.

死亡是瓦拉纳西最突出的事。不管你事先如何准备,它依然震撼着你。我待在Harishchadra Ghat一家火葬场正后面的酒店里。那里看上去有川流不息的尸体进入。一些尸体被几个人用担架抬着;一些绑在车盖上;一些被抬下河,用成捆的柴火烧;一些被带到火葬场。在瓦拉纳西,死亡永不停息。你看着它,你听着它,你甚至呼吸着它。

For Hindus, Varanasi is the best place to die. Hundreds and hundreds of bodies get cremated around the clock at the city’s burning ghats. As you near a burning ghat, you see massive piles of firewood and large scales for weighing it. Relatives of the deceased buy wood by the kilogram (about 350kg needed for each cremation).

对于印度教徒而言,瓦拉纳西是最好的死亡地。成百上千的尸体日夜不停地被拉到城市的火化台ghat上火化。当你靠近一个火化台,你会看到巨大的柴火捆和称重的大型天平。死者的亲属们按公斤来买木柴。(每次火化大约需要350公斤木柴)

A local man took the time to explain the process to me. Each cremation lasts about three hours. Some bodies, however, don’t get cremated - pregnant women, young children, holy men, people bitten by cobras, and people with leprosy. These bodies get tied with a large rock and placed directly into the Ganges River. The man also told me that women aren’t allowed at the ghat because they would cry too much if they witnessed the scene.

一个当地人专门给我讲解了火化的过程。每次火化持续3个小时。然而,一些尸体不能被火化--如孕妇,儿童,神职人员,被眼镜蛇咬伤的人和麻风病患者。这些尸体会被系到大石头上,直接扔进恒河中。那人也告诉我,妇女不允许到火化阶ghat上,因为她们目睹火化时哭的太凶了。

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Death is something we rarely come in contact with in the West. In Varanasi I saw more bodies in 24 hours than I’ve seen in my entire life. At first I didn’t realize that the dull grey building separating my hotel from the river was a crematorium. (I could have suspected it given the smoke stacks.) The building was built on large concrete pillars with a ramp winding up to the entrance about three storeys high. As I approached the building, I noticed a woman sitting alone beside the ramp sobbing with her head in her hands. I began walking up the ramp and saw a body wrapped in white cloth lying near the entrance. Blood had soaked through the cloth at the head. I then realized why the woman was sobbing. Maybe it was her husband. Maybe he had been in a collision. Maybe it was a workplace accident. I wanted to comfort the woman somehow but was at a loss for words.

在西方,死亡是我们很少触及的话题事物。在瓦拉纳西一天内,我看到的尸体数量之多超过了以往所有时间里看到的。起初我根本没有意识到隔在我住的酒店和河流的那幢灰色沉闷的建筑物是一个火葬场。(我原该意识到它的,因为有很多的烟雾。)该建筑由巨大的水泥石柱支撑,一个坡道蜿蜒而上,直至入口处,约有三层楼高。当我走近建筑物时,我注意到一个女人独自埋头坐在坡道边上抽泣。我开始走上斜坡,看到一具裹着白布单的尸体停放在靠近入口处的地方。头部处的血已渗透出白布单。我明白女人哭泣的原因了。也许这是她的丈夫,也许他被撞死了,也许这是工伤事故。我想安慰一下那女人,但不知话从何说起。

I continued up the ramp to the entrance. A policeman stood watch over the facilities operations. I cautiously peered through the large entrance and the policeman motioned me inside. It was a large empty room with nothing but cold grey cement on the floor and walls. In the centre of the room were two conveyor belts leading into the mouth of two large ovens. A body was lying on one of the belts. Near the entrance of the room was a single desk with large book on it. A man, who I’m assuming was the record keeper, was writing in the book while talking with five other men who must have been relatives of the deceased.

我继续沿着坡道,走到入口处。一名警察站在那里监守处理过程。我小心翼翼地透过宽大的入口处往里张望,警察示意我进去。这是一个空旷硕大的房间。只有四壁和地板的灰冷水门汀。房屋中央是两个通往火化炉入口的传输带。一具尸体正躺在传输带上。房间的入口处附近有一张单人桌,上面摆放着一本大大的书。有个人,我猜测是书记员一边在书上写着什么,一边又同5个男子谈话,想来他们必是死者的亲属。

I observed the proceedings for a few minutes before walking back down the ramp. Kids were playing cricket between the pillars supporting the building. It was a raw illustration of the cycle of life. Life and laughter mere meters from death and sorrow.

我观看过程几分钟后,就又顺着斜坡下去了。孩子们正在火葬场下的柱廊间打板球。这真是一个生命循环的苦涩写照。生命和欢笑只能从死亡和悲痛中来测量。

One thing that surprised me about Varanasi was how quiet and peaceful the ghats were during the day. I figured there would be hordes of people down by the river but actually the ghats were almost bare. In four months of being in India, I would say the ghats were almost the quietest place I’ve experienced so far. At night it’s a different story though. Religious ceremonies take place at many of the ghats. The main ghat is insane. Thousands of people gather on the steps of the ghat and hundreds more watch from boats on the river.

瓦拉纳西一件令我吃惊的事是,白天火化阶ghat平静安详。我以为将有成群的人顺着ghat走下河,但实际上台阶空荡荡的。待在印度的四个月中,我要说ghat是我迄今为止去过的最安详的地方。当然,晚上会是另一个故事版本。宗教典礼大都在ghat上举行。主ghat上人头攒动,成千上万的人聚集在ghat的台阶上,其他几百上千的人则从河里的船只上观看。

Varanasi is a fascinating place and definitely worth a visit! I spent less than 48 hours in the city and certainly got enough of a taste to last me a while. For me, it's not a long term kind of place. Indian cities are all basically the same - loud and crowded. But if you're seeking chaos, Varanasi is the perfect place for you!

瓦拉纳西是一个迷人的地方,绝对值得参观一下。我在瓦拉纳西待了不足48小时,已经有足够的东西令我回味很长时间。(不过)于我,这不是长久之地。印度城市大题来讲,都是一样的,那就是嘈响和拥挤。但是如果你想要体验闹哄哄的感觉,瓦拉纳西绝对是完美的地方。

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