Sex workers dance till wee hours at cremation ground for salvation in Varanasi

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Varanasi, March 23 (ANI): As part of their age-old ritual, a group of sex workers danced through the night till the wee hours here on Monday at a cremation ground for salvation and a better life in their rebirth.

The ritual was held in Varanasi, the holy city of the country, coinciding with the Navaratri festival.

The sex workers wearing 'Ghungroos' (belt anklets with tiny bells) on their unshod feet and with garish make-up on their faces sang hosannas and danced into the wee hours of the night.

Called "Nagar Vadhus" or, city's brides, these sex workers are generally forbidden to enter temples, as they are considered 'impure'.

"This is a very ancient tradition and has been re-instated by Baba Shamashan Nath (the Godman of the cremation grounds). This ritual has been going on from the era of Raja Mansingh, when this temple was first built. 'Nagar Vadhus' come here to dance and take part in rituals to attain salavation. They come here to appease Lord Shiva, so that their next life can be better," said Gulshan Prabhu, organizer of the event.

Hundreds of people turn up at the venue where the funeral pyres rage on one side of the cremation ground and the loud music and revelry on the other.

However, the participatig women consider it a blessing to be able to perform the nearly 450 years old annual festive affair and believe they will be reborn as high caste women.

"We come here and pray to the Baba (the Godman) to help us attain blessings for a better life in our next birth. We pray that our life is less hassled and to achieve that we come here once every ear, to dance of our own accord," said Neetu, a sex worker. By Girish Kumar Dubey (ANI)

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