Death is never discussed, it is never planned and least of all ceremonies associated with it are never thought about. Who would want to visit them again, hearts of hearts everyone knows one has to reach there but no one ever wants to, so it is a much avoided topic. Happy thoughts and ceremonies are welcome, but this is usually a big no no. Call it Destiny, but once it stared us in the face, there was much learning. A revelation that a place like Delhi, could pack in so much in ritualistic traditions, where ceremonies could be performed as it could be in a village on the banks of a river. There were people associated with it, for whom such rituals and participation in it were a part of life. The entire operation running smoothly without a hitch, every aspect could be organized to ensure its smooth performance without any fuss, of course for a consideration. Given our Tam Brahm emphasis on rituals, Delhi in my opinion seemed to be the North Pole when it came to facilities for such rituals which could be contracted out and performed with ease in other cities like Madras, (Chennai if you must), Mumbai….. For my father and I the loss was of a larger magnitude which coupled with grief stunted our ability to organizing the rituals at home. And then, vistas opened up where we heard or Priests / Pandits or in Tamil Vadhyar or Sanskrit Shastrigal (one who has mastered the Shastras) who organized the entire run of 13 day ceremonies including buying all items, the Dhan (to be given to Brahmins), Dakshina, the ahuti for burning, food…….
Kartik Shastrigal was the one who came to our rescue, referenced through a short chain of relatives. An enterprising young man in his late 30s man, born, brought up and educated in Delhi, who studied the Vedas and Shastras at a Gurukul in Benares (Varanasi). What set him apart was his being from the contemporary world he was able to understand our grief, circumstance and be able to perform the rituals so that each of the variable was addressed. The rituals were not a chore to be done by rote but one which he explained, helped us along and made it seem all so relevant.
The place for the rituals, a tiny home in village Bindapur. Bindapur is the place chosen by DDA to present its expandable housing scheme. Meaning yes, the ever expansive construction is actually legal. This flat though small was to be our Benares or Gaya during the 4 days of the ceremony. Can such a little space give the same mental satisfaction? Travelling the first day I must have cursed everyone for putting us through it. But somehow it did. But moving from ceremony to ceremony each day revealed a growing satisfaction. The ceremonies seemed as our way of finishing off all the unfinished business we had with her. Conversations left unfinished, trips planned but never undertaken, work to be done together, re-doing the house, shopping expeditions….. It suddenly was our Karma.
Why do I write about this in visitors2delhi? Yes, the ritualistic traditions shunned in a modernistic world exists peacefully in its full fledged earlier avatar. Priests, rites, offerings……………well it is another world, lesser known which does exist in Delhi.
(More about Ram Ghat in the next one)
Monday, January 10, 2011
It has been a while since I wrote on Delhi. Explore I did, write I could not or rather did not, mentally thousands of words may have been written but nothing on the dear faithful computer. First there was a wedding, and then the lethargy of enjoying it before writing about all those wonderful experiences of the wedding, the preparation, attending…..then came a much deserved but shot trip to Jaipur, and then the least expected my mother fell ill, nothing much but she needed to rest. So everything was put on the back burner till she recovered. And recover she did except not in this mortal way but going away never to return on 2nd December 2010. The grief, trauma engulfs but writing is theraupetic and so once again the faithful dear computer comes to the rescue becoming my agony aunt!