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Life and death on the Ganges

Posted at 5:31 PM on January 19, 2006 by Euan Kerr

I spent a great deal of time talking about death today. The reason was the visit by the very lively Gayle Ferraro, director of "Ganges:River to Heaven ". It's about the people who live and pass through Varanasi, the Indian city on the banks of the Ganges where, Hindus believe, you go straight to paradise if you die there. As a result there is a constant flow of families into the city, bringing elderly relatives to die.

It's a shocking film in some ways, particularly to those of us steeped in one of the many cultures which are squeamish about the process of death.

Ferraro seems almost glib about it now, but admits she was quite self-conscious when she first arrived in the city and saw families carrying cloth draped corpses through the streets to the cremation grounds. She says the entire city had basically given itself over to dying and death. It was a fascinating experience interviewing her.

Ferraro will appear on a panel at the Bell Auditorium Friday night after the screening. That should be pretty interesting too.

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