Every day men play the treasure hunt game in the holy river, praying to find something worth selling.
New Delhi: At Nigambodh ghat, one of Delhi’s largest Hindu crematoriums, as people cremate their loved ones, others find ways to earn a living from the materials one immerses as a ritual. And why not, after all, one should learn to practice the phrase, ‘Reduce, reuse and recycle’.
Situated on the banks of river Yamuna, the ghat is a source of income for many. Every day men play the treasure hunt game in the holy river, praying to find something worth selling. This play has now become a regular job for them. “We have been swimming here since childhood. Now, make a living out of this,” said Rajveer, a diver.
Not only do these men try to make a living at the ghat, but also help rescue people and save lives. “We are lifeguards by profession,” said Rajveer’s companion, Banarasi.
They save the lives of those who accidentally slip by chance and even those who come to commit suicide. “Only two of us do this here. The day before yesterday, an elderly man, grieving about his life, jumped into the river while people screamed to raise an alarm to help the man. We saved him,” Banarasi added.
“We also bring out dead bodies, whenever we find them, and send them for post-mortems,” said Rajveer. “Like people enjoy swimming in a pool, we enjoy doing this,” he added. There are no rules and regulations for them. “If we are unable to find anything on a given day, then God will bless us with something on some other day which will compensate for the rest of the days,” he exclaimed.
Every time the men take dips in the water and reached for the riverbed, the surrounding muddy green water turns black because of the deposited ash. Even though the river looks murky, people do afraid to dive into it, including children. They have never had any diseases, claimed Rajveer. He added, “Only new people who start doing this are prone to fall ill.”
These generous men do their work at the banks, as well as keep a sharp check on the people around. They have a pouch attached to their pants, which saves them the trouble of coming back to the bank again and again. Their treasure bag consists of things like coins, idols of God, keys and metallic plates with religious carvings. They reach the river bank in the morning, spend the day in the water looking for things of worth and leave by the evening to sell them in the nearby markets.
The ghat is serene but the air has a smoky smell and the water stinks. People who live here, wash and bath in this river. It is a pool of happiness for children.
“We do not call it a filthy river as it provides us our daily bread,” responded Rajveer as the correspondent asked as to why they have been taking dips in the smelly water body.