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Designated hotels in Varanasi cater to only the old and the infirm, waiting to die and attain “salvation”. The holy city of Varanasi in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state is the gateway to salvation, so goes a Hindu belief.
Fuelled by such faith, thousands over the last many centuries have travelled to Varanasi, also called Kashi, with a desire to die there. Dying in Varanasi is supposed to break the cycle of death and rebirth. Once one dies in Varanasi, he or she is never reborn, and thus attains salvation.
To house those wanting to die, all sorts of hotels and lodging have sprung up over the years. One such place is the Mumukshu Bhawan Home for the Ailing established in Locally known as the Moksha Bhawan Salvation Homethe elderly settle here, stubbornly waiting for death. Eighty- year -old Manbudh Tripathi has been staying at Mumukshu for the past 17 years. My sons send me money every month but it has been more than 10 years since I last saw them,” he says.
They come here to die,” says Manish Pandey, 43, the manager. Mumukshu charges a minimal rent for accommodation and electricity. Those who cannot afford are also allowed to stay. Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan kasji another home where you come to die. But unlike Mumukshu, Mukti Bhawan houses only those who are expected to die within 15 days of admission.
Bhairav Nath Shukla, 60, has been managing the Mukti Bhawan for more than four decades. Some non-residential Indians too have come. On an average people are allowed to stay for 15 days. For some it could be two or three days or even a month till they die,” he says. A fee of 20 Indian rupees less jashi half a dollar is charged for those who can pay.
Savitribai Phule (Author of Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar)
It is free for the poor. Moreover, after being here for so long, I can easily calculate when a person will die,” says Shukla.
Bharat Singh and his wife have come from the eastern state of Bihar with their old and suffering aunt. It was her wish to die in Kashi and we have got her here,” he says.
Accommodation is only for those who are expected to die soon and Mumukshu caters to this section of people. Urmial, 40, congenitally blind, is from the eastern state of Bihar.
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What draws Kenyan women to join al-Shabab and what challenges are they facing when they return to their communities? Thu Dec 05 The Mumukshu Bhawan, started inaccommodates those who want to spend their last days in Varanasi. Vimla Devi,89, has waited at Mumukshu for 40 years.
She arrived from the southern city of Hyderbad. Retired government school teacher Manbodh Tripathi was studying religion and kasni to Varanasi 17 years ago to die. Subha Kant Jha,75, for the last 20 years has hoped that this day will be his last. Sati Devi and her husband left home three years earlier to die in Varanasi. Mukti Bhawan accommodates those who expect to die in 15 days.
The Mukti Bhawan is lenient. Once 15 days are over, it gives them more time to die. Tiljaro Devi,75, has patiently waited two years for her “salvation”. Bhairav Nath Shukla, the manager of Mukti Bhawan for over four decades claims he can calculate when a person will die.
After all the wait, bodies are cremated in the Manikarnika Ghat. Sign up for our Newsletter. Daughters of al-Shabab What draws Kenyan women to join al-Shabab and what challenges are they facing when they return to their communities?