About Sivananda Ghat
(To make use of the facilities at Sivananda Ghat, kindly contact us on 031 262 2314)
Sivananda Ghat is a post cremation public facility situated alongside the Umgeni River, next to the Clare Estate Umgeni Hindu Crematorium. It was constructed by Divine Life Society of South Africa after a request was made by the Minister of Education of KwaZulu-Natal, during the birthday function of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, held at Sivananda International Cultural Centre, La Mercy in September 2002. The Minister himself suggested the name "Sivananda Ghat" as a fitting tribute to our Divine Master for having contributed to the development of the country through the Society's projects for people of different faiths and race groups as well as the disadvantaged.
With great enthusiasm Divine Life Society decided to undertake the project. The inspiration came mainly from the Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, who had spoken about the Shraddha ceremony and rituals for the deceased at his Ashram. The Master had said:
"From now onward the first of every month will be observed at the Ashram as "All Souls Day". We should offer special prayers for the peace of departed souls. In this modernized materialistic world, Dharma has long ago been lost. Many religions have come into being in India itself that vehemently condemn the practice of ancestor-worship, Tarpana and Shraddha. The departed souls are in great grief. They naturally look to us to help them. We must do this."
On the first of every month, Havan and Satsang are conducted for the peace of the departed souls. Those attending, walk around the Ghat singing melodious Bhajans and repeating Ram-Nam. About 2000 poor people are fed on this day in the name of departed souls.
Sivananda Ghat is managed by Divine Life Society and its band of sincere devotees. It is fulfilling its primary function of providing a safe and dignified facility for the disposal of the cremated ashes of all race groups, including Africans and Christians. Facilities are also provided for the performance of Shraddha and Tarpana rituals at no cost. Instead of the use of clay pots the Society has now provided metal vessels for disposal of the ashes into the Ganga basin and then into the Umgeni River.
Sivananda Ghat is a place of solace and comfort for bereaved family members who have lost their beloved ones. Furthermore, it is a highly educational and cultural centre. Both Sivananda and Vishwananda Halls have extremely beautiful illuminated display cabinets with lovely pictures of exotic birds, flowers, animals, scenic wonders, etc. accompanied by short, inspiring sayings from our Divine Master's writings which captivate readers. There are sayings from our sacred Hindu scriptures, like the Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita. The lovely shrine with illuminated duratrans of Lord Rama, Mother Saraswathi, Swami Vishwananda, our Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, Lord Ganesha, Lord Krishna and Lord Siva enthrall all.
Mother Ganga Shrine at Sivananda Ghat
Two illuminated shrines of Ganga Mata are mounted on the beautiful Ganga fountain with its lovely water sprays. There is also a small duratran shrine of Sri Hanuman. A shrine of Lord Jesus has also been installed. From the comments and response of individuals, Sivananda Ghat is bringing about a spiritual awakening and transformation in the lives of many visiting the centre. Visitors and members of bereaved families invariably comment about its serene and tranquil atmosphere. Several remarked: "This place is heaven on earth."
The large amount of spiritual literature taken clearly indicates that today, many who are confronting serious problems, are looking for spiritual guidance. In this respect Divine Life Society can confidently state that our Master's spiritual writings, which are so highly inspiring, universal in outlook and practical in application are unparalleled when it comes to instructions and guidance for the ordinary man. We get reports of how his writings have helped Muslims and Christians also. Now they have been translated into Zulu and are having a wide appeal.
The divine atmosphere of the Ghat is helping people to cope with difficulties and sadness due to loss of their beloved ones. The booklet, Pathway to Peace & Happiness and other spiritual literature contain illuminating information on how to overcome depression and suicidal tendencies, alcoholism and drugs, etc. is distributed. Also, the Master's book, What Becomes of the Soul After Death answers many queries about the soul after it leaves the body. It contains valuable information on reincarnation, etc.
The ashes of the deceased are deposited into one of two basins consecrated with holy Ganga water situated on Ganga Fountain in the Ghat. From here the ashes are transported directly into the Umgeni River. While the ashes are being disposed, members of the bereaved family pour Ganga water into the basin and all utter the invocation, Hare Hare Gange Jai Ma Gange. After the disposal all chant the sweet and melodious Om Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram or Om Nama Sivaya Mantra while walking around Ganga fountain eight times.
Shrine of Lord Jesus at Sivananda Ghat
In the case of Christians, while depositing the ashes, our devotees repeat melodiously lines from one of our Master's universal Kirtans, invoking Lord Jesus and Mother Mary. Members of bereaved Christian families also pour Ganga water into the basin. One of the greatest blessings that departed souls receive is the Grace of Ganga Mata, whose holy water is poured into the basin by members of bereaved families while the ashes of their beloved ones are being deposited into it. Furthermore, the Umgeni River also gets purified and sanctified by Ganga Mata's water.
Sivananda Ghat and its precincts are maintained and serviced regularly by experienced and trained individuals. The system is highly efficient as it is a gravity fed system. The ash is mixed with water and this is carried into the river via pipes. More than 20 000 ash disposals have been conducted since 2005 and the Ghat is becoming increasingly popular for its service to all race groups and diverse religious affiliations. The area where the ashes enter the Umgeni River is regularly supervised and cleaned to ensure that the natural environment is maintained.
Since its official opening in 2005, Sivananda Ghat has been having a spiritually uplifting effect on all those visiting it.