Bangladesh’s most impoverished and discriminated-against group is slowly opening up to outsiders and the good news of Jesus Christ.
Aatmaja waits by the gates, wreathed in the scents of smoldering camphor and incense, burning bamboo and bodies.
The cremation grounds are filled with pyres, feet often poking out with the big toes tied together. Families gather around the hottest burning ones, chanting matras that will hopefully help their loved one achieve “moksha,” freedom from the endless cycle of death and rebirth.
Another family enters the grounds, carrying a body on poles, everyone careful not to touch it. That’s Aatmaja’s job, that and tending the pyres, because she has no caste status or purity to lose.
She’s a Dom, the lowest strata of the untouchable caste “Dalits.”