Hindu woman covered with sacred mud, bathing in the Ganges River, Varanasi,
Uttar Pradesh, India.
Indians believe that the Ganges, the sacred river that runs through Varanasi, has its source in the footprints of Shiva, and that bathing in the Ganges from one of its ghats –ritual stairways leading to the river–cleanses all the sins. Visiting Varanasi at least once in a lifetime is every Indian’s goal, and dying there insures the greatest chance of moksha (release from the cycle of rebirth). Of all the cities devoted to Shiva, god of internal knowledge, Varanasi is nothing else than Kashi, the City of Divine Light.
Excerpt from J-Philippe Soule's story "The Way of the Sadhu".