Fire On The Ganges : Life among the Dead in Banaras – Radhika Iyengar


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In the land of the dead, there is life all around.

Banaras, Uttar Pradesh. A place where life and death co-exist in the most unimaginable way.

The Doms are a Dalit sub-caste in Banaras designated by tradition to perform the Hindu rite of cremation. They have ownership of the sacred fire without which, it is believed, the Hindu soul will not achieve liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth. Despite this, the community is condemned to the lowest order in caste hierarchy, and its members continue to be treated as ‘untouchables’.

Fire on the Ganges is the first attempt to chronicle the everyday realities of the Doms. It plunges into Banaras’s historical past, while narrowing its lens to a few spirited characters from the Dom community. Through their tales of struggle and survival, loss and ambition, betrayal and love, it tells the at-times-heartbreaking, at-times-exhilarating story of a community struggling to find a place beyond that accorded to it by ancient tradition.


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