Releasing the soul: The death rituals of Pashupati

Story, video and photos by Amber Baesler, NewsNetNebraska

Pashupati is a sacred area in Kathmandu where many people are cremated on the banks of the Bagmati River. Photo: Amber Baesler, NewsNetNebraska

Pashupati is a sacred area in Kathmandu where many people are cremated on the banks of the Bagmati River. Photo: Amber Baesler, NewsNetNebraska

Pashupati is a sacred area in Kathmandu and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is well known for its ancient Hindu temples. It is also a place where many people in Nepal come for worship. Some come here to die.

Many people in Nepal are cremated on the banks of the Bagmati River, which runs through Pashupati. These public cremations can take up to four hours, using hay, butter and massive amounts of wood to keep the fire burning until the bodies of the deceased turn to ashes.

Many different rituals are a part of the funeral process. Each is designed to free the deceased’s spirit from the cycle of reincarnation.

In 2016, I spent three weeks documenting the different aspects of Pashupati’s cremations. Death is a shared part of the human condition. It is perceived differently across cultures, but it has the same emotional impact.

Click on the video below to learn more about Pashupati’s cremation rituals.

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