In the land of the dead, there is life all around.
Banaras, Uttar Pradesh. A place where life and death co-exist in the most unimaginable way.
The Doms are a Dalit sub-caste in Banaras designated by tradition to perform the Hindu rite of cremation. They have ownership of the sacred fire without which, it is believed, the Hindu soul will not achieve liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth. Despite this, the community is condemned to the lowest order in caste hierarchy, and its members continue to be treated as 'untouchables'.
Fire on the Ganges is the first attempt to chronicle the everyday realities of the Doms. It plunges into Banaras's historical past, while narrowing its lens to a few spirited characters from the Dom community. Through their tales of struggle and survival, loss and ambition, betrayal and love, it tells the at-times-heartbreaking, at-times-exhilarating story of a community struggling to find a place beyond that accorded to it by ancient tradition.
'A book of humanity and intimacy, hope and resilience ... This is oral history at its finest.'
'Radhika Iyengar makes her subject spring to life through her eye for detail and her immersion in the world she's writing of.'
'Vividly told and richly detailed, Radhika Iyengar's Fire on the Ganges is an untold story that will shape our collective understanding of India.'
'You might think of Manikarnika as a place for the dead. This fine book is a reminder that the burning ghats are a place for the living.'
'With admirable elegance and empathy, Radhika Iyengar tells stories of a community that has not been spared caste prejudice despite its traditional "prerogative" of cremating Hindus at the most auspicious ghats along the Ganga.'
'A worthy illustration of show-don't-tell, Fire on the Ganges leaves you both hopeful and anxious about the possibilities of breaking through the barriers imposed by the caste system for those who are placed at its very bottom ... Iyengar's work stands out for its dogged curiosity and immersive storytelling.'
|Title:||Fire on the Ganges : Life Among the Dead in Banaras|
|Publisher:||Fourth Estate India|
|Number Of Pages:||352|
|Release date:||29 September 2023|