Holy men celebrate unique Holi at cremation grounds in Varanasi

Ahead of the Hindu festival of colour, Indians in Varanasi marked the Masan Holi on Thursday 25 March. The Masan Holi is played with colour mixed with ash from bodies burned at the cremation grounds of Varanasi. Traditionally at Manikarnika Ghat, the 'mahashmashan' where Hindus cremate their dead, local people play Holi with ash on the next day of Rangbhari Ekadashi, a Banarasi tradition that is believed as old as the Ganga itself. It happens only in Banaras, where death is not considered something to fear as it means attaining 'moksha' (salvation). After performing religious rituals, holy men present dance and music at a makeshift stage amid the burning pyres, in respect of the lord of the cremation ground.