color and light. our first night in varanasi we walked down the ganga to the main burning ghat, to watch the puja that takes place there every evening after sunset. the river was bright with lanterns and bulbs, crowded with the hired boats of tourists (indian, western) watching the ceremony from the water. we climbed the stone steps up behind, looking down to the platforms standing over the river. seven young brahmins stood in pyramid ranks in the center, clapping rhythmically-- at some subtle signal the beat came faster and faster and then, suddenly, stopped-- they fanned out into a straight line (oranges and cloth-of-gold flashing in the flourescent lights that flooded the ghat) and took their places facing out over gangama. men standing to either side below began pulling long bellropes and the ringing made a top line over the chants coming brokenly from the speakers all around. and then, the offerings; for the next hours in slow, perfectly synchronized motion, with incense sticks and censers and trees of burning candles they paid homage to the river. smoke hung around them, patterning the air, catching the light from the colored bulbs strung into flashing umbrella shapes overhead.