A sudden stroke suddenly took away the lonesome life of an uncle of ours.
He was unmarried, with no heir to take care of the last rites which form an integral part of any Hindu family’s traditions. This is the case even if the deceased is not an ardent follower of the many other customs. We, as his immediate family, had to perform the last rites. Fortunately or unfortunately, this was the first time we siblings were seeing death and its religious consequences that close. As per the norm, my young brother was supposed to perform the rites.
The Hindu customs of letting a body go involves a lot of heart wrenching processes, from the “boy of the family” having to give a last wash to the dead body, to making the deathbed and carrying the body on his shoulder to the graveyard and subsequently setting it on fire.
Has anyone ever thought what would go on in the mind of the person who has no choice but to perform all these rituals? One needs a heart of steel. This person automatically has to take the responsibility of performing the acts in spite of what’s going on in his mind. Many times there’s no time for one to mentally prepare oneself.
Why does society have to lay down such rules and rituals, which, with time, become so rigid that one is left with no choice but to follow?
Has society ever thought about its adverse consequences on someone’s mind?
I strongly feel that it is time that each one of us make our own choices, and not succumb to societal pressures and viewpoints. We need to mold ourselves the way we think best to live our life, and not how society wants us to live.
I’m just hoping with time, society tries to look at what they have chosen for us to be the righteous path to follow, understands and looks at it from the opposite end.
Mona Negi is an architect based in Delhi, India. When she is not able to release her creativity through architecture, she travels and dabbles with photography and writing. Writing for her is basically penning her thoughts and feelings, and sh feels best after she’s done, when she can feel it and think about it. She is hoping someday to be able to push herself out of her routine life, and maybe solely follow her heart.
Editor: Anne Clendening
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