Panning for Gold

Varanasi, India.

     Another shot that goes well with my recently posted story on Varanasi. A shot of what I think has to be one of the worst jobs in the world, or at least that I have witnessed. The guys in the water, well, they’re panning for gold. No, that’s not bad really, until you realize they are in the Ganges, at the Manikarnika Ghat, and the fire in the foreground is not just a fire, it’s a funeral pyre. The Manikarnika Ghat is a cremation ghat along the Ganges River. There is a body in there. OK, so they’re panning for gold in front of a burning body, no biggie, right? Wrong. They are panning through the ashes of the dead and burned looking for any gold or precious stones or metals that may have gotten through. Gold teeth, jewelry, hair pins, etc, etc. They are panning peoples ashes. What makes it worst is that the occasional body part makes it through the fire, which they just toss further into the river, yikes.

     It’s a holy river, it’s a revered site, it’s considered very lucky to die and be burned here. I’m not arguing that, and I do have to say that it is fascinating (to me at least) but man, I wouldn’t want that job, no way. It’s a different world though, and I’m sure I would be happy just to have a job if I lived there as well.


3 comments on “Panning for Gold

  1. Oh my… I’ve panned for gold in my days, but never in such grim and gruesome circumstances. What with the gold price being currently above $1600/oz, I guess it’s a case of waste not, want not…

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