Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Last Rites (or wrongs)

Recently a very dear aunt of mine passed away due to cancer. The death though imminent was a bit sudden. The various rituals performed and yet to be performed tasks made me think about the business of death which various priests run in the name of religion.

Death, in india or to be more specific in Hindus is as elaborate as wedding. As soon as the news spreads about the sad demise of an individual relatives, friends and neighbours start streaming in for mourning, to share the grief, often causing more grief by crying in front of immediate relatives who've already cried their hearts out. Even after the day of cremation, people will keep on visiting the family as per their own sweet convenience.

The family is required to perform various prayers for long period of time and provide an year's worth of food to the priest conducting prayers. The meeting(kriya) organised after 12 days of death is visited by most of known people and is an elaborate occassion requiring setting up a caterer for food. The family which has already lost a member is lighter by a few thousands before all the rituals are over.

Relatives or visiting people are the least of botheration that a family goes through, the botheration comes from the various rituals that are deemed mandatory by our religious scriptures, without which the deceased will not attain moksha or mukti!

So a recently widowed/orphaned person has to perform numerous tasks and chant umpteen verses before the pyre is lit with holy fire.

Death is the point where all scientific logic and reasoning becomes irrelevant. Almost every religion has some beliefs related to life after death, or the concept of heaven(swarg) and hell(nark). It is these beliefs from which these rituals are born.

The family of deceased may not be totally convinced by these beliefs but still most people prefer not to take chances in case some small effort from them might improve the afterlife of their loved one.

It is this fear of unknown or concern of ours which some godmen may take advantage of.

So at the cremation, after every little ritual, relatives are asked to pray and put some money at the feet of deceased. Money which the priest promptly picks up before next ritual.

At the time of flowing of ashes in the holy river ganges, the local priests will list out the denominations of prayers that they'l undertake for the deceased's well being in the afterlife. They'l unashamedly say that the costlier the prayer the more is the degree of moksha attained. I can't believe that our scriptures link attainment of moksha with amount of money spent by family on rituals, wasn't it all about Karma.

Death of a loved one is an emotional moment for us but for them its their livelyhood. Every ritual ends with some money going into a godmans pocket, so being the more scientific n logical generation, if indeed we want to do something for the peace of our minds and our loved one's souls then rather than maximizing godman's profits and earnings, its better to feed a few poor people whose true blessings might indeed help the deceased..

Friday, January 9, 2009

$ Slumdog Millionare $

One of the best movies i've seen in a long time.. Slumdog millionare deserves every accolade its been receiving worldwide.. The director has made mumbai slums look artistic.. Although the movie could've been more researched but still the few holes in the plot are filled by exceptional performances, especially by the child artist playing jamal.. He was as convincing as any senior actor without resorting to overacting, something which every kid in indian movies does.

Its a story of slum dweller jamal.. Who catches nation frenzy as from a chaiwala in a call center.. He goes on to win a million rupees on game show..

He is suspected of cheating and picked up by police.. Then begins the movie where the boy explains how each question he answered had somehow been answered in his life..

The only noticeable flaw for dumb critics would be.. Jamal talking in hindi as a kid and in accented english when adult.. Anyways.. The movie is too gud for these minor niggles to stop u from enjoying it..

By all means.. Go for it.. :)

Somebody save me..

M on my way to home and accompanied by the most irritating family i've ever met.. The lady keeps chatting up anyone and everyone about anything and everything. The gentleman keeps playing with the camera clicking pics of his wife or just lighting up the flash.. But the most annoying is their cute little 2.5 foot tall daughter who keeps on shouting from the depths of her lungs and bumbling here n there all the time.. Oh how i wish right now that female infanticide was still prevalent.. Just kidding.. But really.. This is really scaring me about my future n having kids.. There should be some school where the children could be sent once they reached this annoying age n brought back once they are again of sensible age..

Lets hope i'm not annoyed to the extent that i start pulling my hair (or little girl's)

May god give the kid some sense and calm.. Or atleast a volume control knob..!!

I'm posting this via mobile from a train.. So this is my live ordeal.. :(