Cremations on Bagmati River. Kathmandu. Nepal 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.com
Bagmati River flows through the Kathmandu valley and separates Kathmandu from Lalitpur. It is considered a holy river both by Hindus and Buddhists. A number of Hindu temples are located on the banks of this river.
The importance of Bagmati also lies in the fact that Hindus are cremated on the banks of this holy river, and Kirants are buried in the hills by its side. According to the Nepalese Hindu tradition, the dead body must be dipped three times into the Bagmati River before cremation. The chief mourner (usually the first son) who lights the funeral pyre must take a holy river-water bath immediately after cremation. Many relatives who join the funeral procession also take bath in the Bagmati River or sprinkle the holy water on their bodies at the end of cremation. The Bagmati River is considered to purify the people spiritually.