INDIA

It falls to Untouchable castes, such as the Dom, to cremate the dead. The Doms work along the steep, stair-cut banks of the Ganges at Varanasi, where the Hindu faithful bring their dead to be burned within sight of the sacred river and who by inheritance are owners of this burning area and it is their families who do it, and sell the wood and do the burning. Doms are normally found near Manikarnika Ghat and Raja Harishchandra Ghat, the two most important crematoriums in Varanasi.

 

In addition to charging money for performing the cremations, the Doms also take a cut from the exorbitantly-priced wood sold near the ghats. The Doms in Varanasi have become very wealthy from their trade and some Indians have accused them of "extortion" because of the high prices they charge and the fact they often take money from poor families that struggle to pay for the cremations.

 

These are candid photographs cinematographer James Adolphus captured while on assignment with CNN for Believer with Reza Aslan,  a project that follows the author, religious scholar and show host Reza Aslan as he immerses himself in various religious traditions all over the world. Varanasi, India - October 2015.

  • Black Instagram Icon
  • Black LinkedIn Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black Facebook Icon