The third photographic documentationof the landscape of Manikarnika Cremation Ghat, Varanasi, is a collection of portraits of family members within its environs. As a sacred site, its general demeanour is spartan to say the least. It is largely a series of terraced steps which lead down through the debris of previous cremation rituals to the river Ganges below, a river considered to be a living Goddess though in reality is an inordinately polluted riverway. There are a number of separate areas and waiting spaces, all constructed in concrete and blackened by the soot from the fires.
Dotted amongst the families are the white clad Kartas, the oldest male relatives. Sometimes they isolate themselves, leaving the remaining family members sitting mostly on the terraces as the cremations roll relentlessly on. The wait can be up to 8 hours. Most people I approached were very happy to be photographed. The camera was a Sigma DP2 Merril, capable of astonishing quality but unpredictable colour balance.