Of The Only Constant in Life…

….which, obviously, as per RD is death. He says only birth and death are the constants of a person’s life. The rest is all dependent on circumstances.

Yaa, the guy can talk philosophy at times eh?

My bhabhi’s grand father expired some days ago. He was really old, suffering from a lot of ailments and in short, personally, it was good that he moved on because that put an end to his suffering.

My Amma and I were just talking about it when Amma started talking about how its difficult being dependent on someone for everything if you get bed ridden. and the talk moved to the expenses after someone’s death.

Amma tells me its very expensive to do the ceremonies after one dies. there is a 13 day period of mourning where you have to do pooja almost everyday..including giving a lot of stuff to the pandits, the community, etc etc. I dont know too much of the details, and I dont want to know honestly.

As far as I am concerned, I told Amma over the phone, I am going to ask R to just either burn me, or infact if my body is in good condition, just donate it to some hospital for further use to medical students.

I am very clear that I dont want her to do ANYTHING after that. No kriya karam, or whatever thats called, I dont expect her to feed brahmins or try and do a shraad or anything. Not even the 13 day mourning or giving away gifts to anyone or anything. Just ensure I am dead, (well its always good to cross check once eh?) then call up the ambulance, take me to cremation/hospital and stuff and thats it, get on with her life.

Okie, may be my clothes and stuff she can donate somewhere or take whatever she wants if our fashion sense match…

All this assuming I die at old age, which I hope to do.

Well, this post is not about death, its just about the rituals (again!) surrounding death. Yes, so a person whom we love dearer than life has died. Now after that person is gone, whats the point of spending money on rituals which just make the whole thing more painful. Again, this is just my personal, very very personal opinion. No one needs to agree to this, not even my parents, or R or RD.

One of the arguments that comes to my mind is, the rituals were made so that there are people surrounding the person who had lost a dear one and within 13 days, they would reconcile to the loss of their dear one. May be, I dont disagree to that one.

But, to spend money when to you cant afford it, or just because everyone else does it, is something I dont agree it.

Yes, if someone wants to do it, and has the means to do the rituals, thats totally fine. But just to do the rituals because the society EXPECTS it, is something I dont agree to.

Why burden an already depressed soul? First you lose your loved one, then you lose your sleep over wondering how to get the finance to do the rituals? Does it make sense at all?

On the other hand, the money spent can be given to charity, feed orphans, buy books for the needy? isnt that a better way to spend the money, in case you have it, you could do that perhaps? and then even the departed soul will be happy ?

After Maya aunty and Patel uncle died, every year, my parents gave money to the local Sai Baba temple which aunty used to frequent where they feed the poor on Thursday. Every year they do that. May be thats the better way to remember your loved ones.

I am not sure, how much, I  have hurt sentiments by this post, but just to let you know its my personal opinion. I may be wrong, but in my case I am clear what I want after I die.

Chalo, at least in one thing, I am clear what I want eh?

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About R's Mom

Not-so-new-mom
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62 Responses to Of The Only Constant in Life…

  1. The Bride says:

    I realised when my friend died in an accident that the rituals do help and also the steady stream of people in and out of the house. Basically, the loved ones are in shock and the rituals give them things to do, which they can do mechanically, and hopefully, slowly they can deal with the grief. However, I agree that the rituals need not be expensive or enforced… different ways of mourning might suit different people.

  2. Zephyr says:

    The rituals after death just as after birth are for sharing — the pain and the joy respectively. But the rituals and daan and other things should be what one can afford to do. And then people find fault with the daan you give. I remember one woman asking her brother to give her a heavy sari for the 13th day ceremony because they couldn’t celebrate Diwali that year which fell in a few days and it would make up for it!! A daughter asking at the death of her FATHER!! And we talk of greedy sons in law! (see mail)

    I agree that we should all donate our organs to medical science and needy people instead of burning the body. And give something to needy people in remembrance like your parents.

  3. Jazz says:

    Oh there goes so much around someone’s death eh. I never knew. And true about burdening an already depressed soul. 😦 And feeding poor people every year that your parents do is awesome.

  4. ashreyamom says:

    hmmm seriously i have not thought of death till now.. or how my death has to carried forward.. neither i have seen ceremony first handly.. so i am clueless.. but this post is making me think and find out about it..

  5. Some of the rituals make no sense whatsoever. I tend to think that people follow it blindly. Good on you for thinking of not following it all…

    By the way, I thought apart from death, taxes were another constant in life. 🙂

  6. You know, this month seems to be a month to write about death and passing away. Did a post on something related to that. Today also happens to be my late Mom’s death anniversary. It was a very sudden death, and I had to take all decisions about things by myself (no siblings in india then at that time). I decided not to do any religious stuff, but donated money in her name to a rural school which she and my dad used to visit and support. They now have yearly prizes for students in her name funded by that donation, in subjects that she admired, like maths, sanskrit and even sports. I did the same later for my late father , for a rural library he had helped set up, in a small place in Kokan.

    I know people talked. Particularly some relatives. But I am glad I did it the way I did. I think my parents would have approved. ,

    • R's Mom says:

      you have always been my rockstar..no seriously! I love love love your philosophy in life..and I think its amazing that even at that time, you could think of giving away instead of being swayed by relatives!

  7. Vidya says:

    We should have been products of the same womb RM;) I keep saying that my dead body must be given away as a specimen for research. Specially for a complex head with a complex thought process:)) My sis and I donate/arrange for a meal for an old-age home and for orphaned kids during the anniversaries of our mom and dad. The rituals, specially among our community are so heavy and draining that you’d want the whole thing to get over soon and will not even have time to mourn! I hope things change when we pass on.. We need to tell our kids that nothing matters after we are dead and gone. What matters is how much valuable time we spend with an ailing person and if we are available when they are suffering and nearing the end. That is what a person needs. Not the rituals when they are gone. Its funny that people spend and fret so much after a person is gone, but hardly take time out when the person is alive! RANT OVER!

  8. BB says:

    Totally agree with you on this one. Most people are afraid that people/society will be upset and do not question any of the rituals. It is nice to have relatives/friends around for a bit during the mourning period, but the money can definitely be better spent on something useful as opposed to the rituals( i know first hand because I’ve seen it happen for both sets of grandparents). As much as I fought with my family to give the money off to charity, most of my relatives vetoed it and I could do nothing but witness the events . The worst part was the pujari’s were super demanding and everybody was bending backwards to please them.

  9. Why would you write about your death RM 😦 I am seriously not going to read this post, well I read it till half way but then I really cannot imagine all this happening with someone I know, even if virtually 😦 i don’t want to be separated from anyone I know 😦 We will not talk about death again RM, it hurts 😦

  10. Sorry RM, if I hurt you with my comment but I am not strong enough to read about death that too whom I love dearly 😦

  11. chipmunk says:

    yep u r R’m 🙂 🙂 But medical college for future study I won’t accept! they hurt us after dying!!! so skip that idea alone 🙂 you can consider pls 🙂

  12. Ashwathy says:

    I agree with the Bride. Some rituals help people deal with the grief, and if so it’s ok.
    But that apart I really do not see any meaning in all the 14 day and 16 day and 40th day funtions. Who keeps track?
    And really, it won’t bring back the person from the dead…. you might as well donate to charity in the dead person’s name. Far more effective and useful.

    I remember we had donated the eyes of both my grandparents right after their death. So in that sense, we know their eyes are still alive somewhere in this world…and seeing a lot of things (I don’t know if this makes any sense, but it gives us some comfort to think so). More importantly their souls must be at peace, since this was one of the last wishes they had.

  13. Shweta says:

    Ditto Ditto Ditto.. 😀

    I want this even if I have an untimely death.. if there is one.. 😉

  14. I want to be your neighbor! I mean Boss…no tension in my life if I have people like you around me 24/7. I love the way your mind works…you are crazy at times with little things but when it comes to living life you are so so sorted 🙂

    The husband and I think the same about all these rituals where basically money speaks. I don’t mind visiting a friend or relative who has lost a loved one to give them support for 13 days or more. but I hate how everything from birth to wedding to death turns into an extravagant affair in our land.

    RM one day I should write a post about how I used to rebel against the customs back at home even as a kid. I remember my family hushing me up and rolling their eyes when I asked them how can all of us indulge in a feast (in my place when someone dies there is a rush from everyone to secure the first spot to send in a feast fit for the wedding of a king to the home of the deceased and then the entire town comes to eat it 😥 ) when people are hurting? 😡 sigh…if I start writing about the insane customs in my community I will be called a Kafir once again 😛

  15. I totally agree with Mr Wise Guy called R. Your post has been very thought provoking and this topic is something that I feel strongly about. I will write a post on this soon. Thanks a ton for inspiring me to write on this.

  16. DI says:

    I have similar views. For one, definitely donate organs. It’s easy to say it I guess, but the very fact that I was useful for someone else, well it would help my family hurt less (I hope). Also, for my FIL we do something similar, we go donate money in one orphanage here. Totally makes sense.
    As about hurting people’s sentiments, *eye roll* I doubt there is ANYTHING that doesn’t hurt *someone somewhere*. I am facing a lot of hate for my frivolous posts these days! 😦

  17. Smita says:

    Hmmm sometimes I feel u think too much!!!

    As far as rituals are concerned I feel there is a need to have felxibilty….and we shouldn’t look at society for approval…we shud do what want to. Period!

  18. Shilpa Garg says:

    Agree with you completely on this! The rituals which you are forced to do to please the society or community is simply not done. Best is to do something meaningful for the memory of your loved one!

  19. Yes I do think the rituals were designed so people could be near, other relatives are their for help etc..

    I dont beleive in rituals .. My WILL says that when it happens, just take me to the local place , they will push me through that electric chamber.. 2 minutes later I come in ashes 🙂 easy peasy job done and then Go to the local pub and Drink a pint for me and have some bhangra shangra 🙂

    The bill is on me (yeah I have put some money for that too)

    so hope to see you having that Pint too – it can be Juice or coke too , no problems 🙂

    All that I would love and which is going ot be a hassel for the people behind me that I want my ashes to be brought to India.. dont want to live in uk after death too.. finally in my death want ot be Home 🙂

  20. meenamenon says:

    Spending money on something tht we cant afford aint really a viable option unless ofcourse its a cost of somebodys life.

  21. chattywren says:

    I had just done a post about death, but a very different perspective. I agree that a lot of rituals – like naming ceremonies, marriages, birthdays, passing away ceremonies – though done with the best of intentions can go overboard when it comes to doing for other people or ‘society’. People who at best mark attendance and don’t really share our joy or sorrows. It is then totally a money-game. But I do believe that one ought to do what one feels is right and appropriate for the family at that time. Better still as per the wishes of the deceased person.

  22. Hi RM, I have signed for donating my all functioning organs after I die here in US, not sure if we have a similar case in Inida?, I believe yes, if so I will sign there too. I too feel the death of a person will be painful only for the people around him or her, not the priest or society. So why waste of money on all these, I feel in our society we give lot of importance for birth, death and marriage, these all are part of life but why so exaggerate? Very nice post RM.

  23. Amit says:

    Most of the average middle class people do not have either the time or the money to go on with the 13 days ritual. I remember the first day ceramony and then the hawan on the 13th day during deaths in my family. In between, it is just the chaos of people coming and going.
    But, yes, there are people who spend so much money on pandits which could have gone to needy people.

  24. LOL @ it is always better to cross check

    On a serious note, lovely post.This is a subject very close to my heart, something I think about often. This has been on my mind lately, thanks to some funerals we have witnessed lately. I agree with your thoughts about the rituals. I was, in fact, thinking of doing a post on my blog on the same lines. You beat me to it. However, if I had done the post, it would be almost the same. Word to word.

  25. N says:

    Bang on RM! Talk about Rituals & Myths following to grave!
    I sooo love the idea of donating body for research. I’d be quite smug-happy if some major breakthrough in med.sci happens due to that 😉
    There was quite an uproar when I registered for eyedonation. One aunt said its forbidden in Islam (dnt think so). My mom is worried that i will be blind n my afterlife! A friend says deadbody will look ugly with 2 holes… Uncle is tensed- what if they refuse to bury me in Kabaristan (i dnt understand the fuss, does it matter where one is buried anyhow?)! A friend gushed ‘woww what a sacrifice! (it would have been if I ws donating when im alive)

  26. Akhila says:

    I am glad that some of us in our generation think & question. This is something that is close to my heart. I don’t believe in rituals done after death, just because it is a custom. In my opinion, if you take care of them well, when they are living, their soul would bless you after they pass away even if you don’t follow the customs. I have known/heard of people who didn’t get the mother a silk saree when she was alive( she loved them, didn’t have one that was good to wear. Not that the son was in hard times) but draped a silk saree on her dead body ! What the …..?

    My mom has told us long before that when she passes away, not to do any of the rituals but just donate/feed an orphanage.

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