Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Death rites

Krishna Mutt, Mahendra Hills, Secunderabad

It is my mother's thithi today. But the arrangements have gone awry: the purohit who was to have conducted the ceremony has gone to Saroor Nagar instead and there is no one here to do the shraadha. The alternative was to come back on amavasya and do it, and we were almost resigned to it but an alternative had been arranged quite fortuitously. I'm glad.
The pains we take to set the dead to rest, across cultures... Energy, resources and propulsion for the journey forward, good vibes and a plea to let go of us as we let go of them.
My mother's funeral was the first time I looked at death rites with any attention. Since then I have become better informed about what happens to the body and spirit as they part, why these rituals are done, what they mean. The ceremony today is bound to be a cursory one, truncated perhaps, a 'sankshipta' affair in keeping with our modern tendency to have done. I don't know enough to judge, but let's see if we can compensate the haste of the ritual with intention.
It turned out ok in the end. The replacement acharya was conscientious and my father did what was needed with as much devotion as he could manage - he doesn't really have much patience with this sort of thing, although his sense of responsibility is bolstered a bit by the earnestness with which my sister and I approach it. The mutt's kitchen managed, at short notice, to feed us as well.


Aasheesh said...

I resist dogma with all my strength. But when it comes to such matters for dad, I cannot deny him what he believed in deeply. And when I perform the necessary rituals, there is a feeling of fulfilment. I like to believe that is so because he is happy, and that is all that matters to me.

Sheetal said...

That is so like you, Aasheesh! Whatever our views may be, one can't argue with happiness. Not when it comes to loved ones - and especially, parents.