The Hindu ritual for the dearly departed known as Asthi Visarjan is performed in a flowing river where the ashen remains are immersed. There are places in India where sacred sites are designated for the Hindu religious ritual. One such place is Allahabad. Asthi Visarjan in Allahabad is known the world over. In Hindu tradition, devotees believe that the Hindu gods descend as humans and bathe at this sacred site to atone for their sins. The holy city of Prayag or Allahabad is the pilgrimage destination of droves of Hindu devotees every year. They come from all over India and across the globe to bathe in the holy waters. Many come to the rivers to immerse and scatter the ashes and remains of their dearly departed in the Hindu ritual of Asthi Visarjan.
In the Northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is found the city of Prayag, also known as Allahabad. In this city lies a Triveni Sangam or the “confluence” of three rivers. The Sanskrit translation of confluence is Sangama. In the Hindu religion, where the three rivers meet is a sacred place. A bath at this point of confluence cleanses away sins which liberates one from the rebirth cycle. Asthi Visarjan at Triveni Sangam has been a popular choice among Indian families wanting to give their dearly departed loved ones a proper Hindu last rite for the deceased.
The three celestial rivers meeting in the Triveni Sangam at Allahabad are the Yamuna river whose depth reaches 40 feet at the confluence of the rivers, the mythical river of Saraswati believed by devotees to possess an underwater presence, and the holy river Ganga or the Ganges River which is basically 4 feet in depth. The Ganges goes on to merge with the Bay of Bengal. In Hindu sacred texts, it is said that the Lord Brahma performed the Prakrista Yajna or devotional sacrifice at this confluence of rivers when he was in exile, thus making Prayag the king among holy places. The Asthi Visarjan ritual for some Indian national leaders was held at this Triveni Sangam. The immersion of Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes at this sacred site was performed in 1948.