"We who go down to the burning ghats clutch at the hands of those coming up"
Burning ghat, Varanasi
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumBurning ghat, Varanasi - Credit: Jonny Cooper

 

Burning ghats are broad flights of stairs leading down to a river, used as a place of cremation by Hindus.  They may make long journeys with their dead in order to cremate them along the banks of rivers thought to be holy, such as the Ganges or Jamuna.

In noting that ‘those who go down to the burning ghats’ (those that are close to death) eat at the strength of the young, the woman of Kullu talks – perhaps unwittingly – of the burden Kim has had to bear in caring for Teshoo lama.