culture

They burn the dead

When a Dom is born, it is said that people weep, they weep for the newborn’s impending life of hardship on one of the bottom rungs of Hindu society.  As an Untouchable, they’re destined for an almost inescapable life of ‘unclean work’ in the community.

In a culture where death is viewed as contagious and touching the deceased as impure, it is the Dom’s job to burn the dead.  They weigh the wood and build the pyre.  On the banks of the holy Ganges, they burn over 70 bodies each day. Using scarves as masks, they walk with heat and smoke.  They bend and break the bones until only ash is left.  After the fire has burned, they sift through the remains for gold teeth and jewellery.

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Drifting Shadows

Pulling, dragging, floating, we wait.

Warming waters and shifting sand forms the mood.

You hold the answers.

Speaking in dreams, you guide us.

Smokey winds are unpredictable and ever-present.

Striking the clear skies, the thunder is deep, like a distant memory.

We know our place.

The full moon outlines faceless shadows.

In the darkness we find familiarity.

We are the black rising mounds.

 

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