A shamshan ghat – A platform designed for the cremation of bodies.

A shamshan ghat (cremation ground) is a platform designed for the cremation of bodies. Typically, it is built near rivers or fresh streams so that ashes can be disposed of after cremation in accordance with Hindu tradition.Members of the Hindu faith have been cremating their dead for centuries, in accordance with their religious beliefs. By tradition, bodies are cremated as quickly as possible after death, typically within six hours, and they are handled only by the family of the deceased. Fire is believed to be cleansing, and it will help prepare the soul for future journeys.The shmashana is said to be abode of ghosts, evil spirits, fierce deities, tantrics. Therefore, people in general prefer to avoid going near shmashan at night. Per Hindu rituals women do not go to shamshana, only males go to shmashana to perform last rites. Only the Doms and Chandalas reside in or near Shamshana.Shmashana is a place, where followers of Vamamarga like Aghori, Kapalika, Kashmiri Shaivism, Kaula of now scarce Indian tantric traditions do sadahna and rituals to worship Kali, Tara, Bhairav, Bhairavi, Dakini, Vetal, etc. invoke occult powers within them. Shmashana is also used for similar purpose by followers of Tibetan Buddhist traditions of Vajrayana, Dzogchen for sadhna of Chöd, Phowa, Zhitro, etc. The deity called Shmashana Adhipati is usually considered to be lord of Shmashana.

Image Credit: storiesofvaranasi.blogspot.com

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