Kashi Dhaam, on the West Coast Demerara, is a sacred site on the Ruimzeigt foreshore where a crematorium and supporting facilities were created over 12 years ago by the Ramroop Foundation.
Over the years, the Foundation has maintained the institution in an immaculate condition with a full-time staff to ensure that the last rites for those who desire to be cremated are conducted in a dignified atmosphere. Last month, a completely new bridge was constructed to replace the former structure which had become worn under the elements.
“Kashi Dhaam” alludes to the famous Ghats in Kashi (Benares or Varansi) along the sacred River Ganga, where Hindus are cremated in the city dedicated to Lord Shiva, and where they believe they will attain liberation (Mosksa) after having died there.
In Guyana, however, individuals of all or no faiths are allowed to be cremated at Kashi Dhaam, with the only stipulation that alcohol be not consumed on the premises.
The location at Ruimzeigt had been used for cremations ever since the ancient method was permitted by the authorities in 1956, after being previously prohibited since Indians immigrants arrived in 1938.
However, it was very difficult for the mourners to maintain a dignified ceremony in the prevailing muddy conditions – specially to cross the canal from the public road to the site on the Atlantic Ocean. The Ramroop Foundation was formed, and with no fanfare constructed Kashi Dhaam.
In addition to the concreted pathway to open brick-paved ground that can accommodate four cremations simultaneously, there is a large adjoining structure that offers several hundred visitors cover from the elements.