Arriving in Varanasi (04:06)
Sue Perkins will go on a journey spanning 1500 miles from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. The ancient city lies halfway down the Ganges River in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Feces lies on the ground in the city streets.
One achieves Moksha by dying in Varanasi and being cremated on the banks of the Ganges River. All roads lead to the river where thousands bathe. Over 150 corpses are burnt daily; death is celebrated.
Bathing in the Ganges (04:53)
Pilgrims bathe in the water and celebrate the river. A young girl's hair is shaved off to reduce their pride. An Aghori monk cleanses his soul in the Ganges River and rubs the ashes of dead bodies on themselves.
Tourists flock to Varanasi to visit temples, bathe in the river, and die. The magnet boys collect the coins that individuals toss in as offerings by dragging magnets on the river bed. People commit suicide by jumping off the Malviya Bridge.
Ganga Aarti (06:29)
Priests perform the ceremony nightly at the Dashashwamedh ghat. Pilgrims make a commitment to Lord Shiva. Perkins explores a death hotel and visits with one of its patrons.
Changing Old India (08:20)
Social attitudes in Varanasi differ from those in the modern world. Students from Banaras Hindu University educates "The Green Group" in self-defense, literacy, and public speaking. Women do not have toilets in Deura village.
Chaotic Streets (04:37)
The smell from the funeral pyres that burn day and night is overwhelming. Perkins becomes upset after tripping and falling in human excrement. Upriver the Ganges is siphoned off for agriculture.
River Pollution (05:04)
Veer Bhadra Mishra is a high priest and professor of hydraulic engineering. Raw sewage and fecal matter pour into the river. Parts of the Ganges are biologically dead due to the pollution.
Manikarnika Ghat (06:46)
Perkins visits Varanasi's most prestigious funeral pyre, where bodies are cremated on open fires so their souls can be released to a different realm. Doms and the Untouchables run the facility. Families confront their loss by walking around their loved one's corpse.
Credits: The Ganges with Sue Perkins: Episode 2 (00:32)
Credits: The Ganges with Sue Perkins: Episode 2
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