Saturday, July 01, 2006

Day Four......

Today is the final day of my father’s Kaam and Kriya (This is the main ritual which usually on 13th Day, the departed soul is given a farewell which is usually accompanied by things that he may use in the next life or what he used to like in this. The pyramids are the most famous example of this ritual). The day for me started with my visit to neighboring villages for invitation for the feast after the ceremony in the evening.

My village is surrounded by many pockets of thatched houses. Each one has its individuality and most of them are based on the ancient caste system that we have in India. One of them is Lala Tola (The houses of Vaisya – The people who do commercial activities. This also housed our washermen and people who are related to the field activities like sowing and tilling. To reach this village we had to go along the canal and that brought me back a rush of memories. I remember the times when in childhood I used to go to the local school. How many times our farm manager had to literally threaten me of throwing into this canal if I don’t go to school. I never was interested in going to the school which looked so drab to me compared to so many activities that were very much inviting in the mango grove, the fields and the river. Along the way I came across many people whom I used to know from the ancient times. One of the women was surprised to see us and commented why we have left the village and never looked back. Telling her, that we have been coming here every once in a while was no use as she was one lady who used to care for me and my mother many a times and took care of my like a nurse in early childhood. Its so humbling going to each house and talking to them and inviting for the ceremonial feast as they after seeing us came out scampering from the hut some times in reverence which is due to our status in the village some time in respect of our being brahimns. I found most of them in need of basic amenities and felt sad by their plight but then I looked at their faces and that made me see the inner peace that they have is lacking in most of the people in the urban cities.

On the way I passed a very old pipul tree which is very old and huge canopy which almost covered the entire road as well as the field behind it. I used to get scared on this tree in the nights when winds used to blow and shake every branch and leaves. I remember the time when in the middle of the summer afternoon bunch of us armed with ropes and a wooden plank went to this tree to put up a swing. As I was the kid in the group adept at climbing trees was allotted the job of going up the tree and reach the overhanging branch that was higher to reach from the ground and put the rope across. As I was walking on the branch and doing a balancing act with my hands outstretched I felt a gentle tap on my left shoulder and a sound which made my hairs stand on its ends. I looked around and found no one besides me on the branch and still could feel the ringing voice asking me to get down son and do not disturb, Baba is sleeping now. I scampered down and ran away from the place along with many of friends came after me asking what happened but I did not have the courage to stay and explaing them. I still hear the sound some times and now as I pass under this old pipul tree, I find it very peaceful. We have always believed in the village that this tree houses the Lord BRAHMA called in local dialect BARAM BABA and that was the day I felt his presence and today I feel it in looking at the base of tree where many people have left things, sacred thread is running across the girth of the tree which is a sign of being a Brahmin. I felt the urge to sit down here and I asked my cousin and younger brother to wait for a while. After some time my younger brother got up to go to the fields edge and I suddenly asked him not to go there but move a little bit on the right and stay there. Suddenly he shrieked and jumped up. We all ran towards him while he started telling us about a huge cobra passing by. I felt the presence of Lord Shiva that moment and silently prayed to Him and realized that He has just blessed us and my father is happy being there in his abode. With a joy in my heart I strted to go to our house.

By the time I came back, the whole process of ceremony has started. The priests from many places have reached and the chanting of mantra has been started. My elder brother was sitting with many pots all around him marking many things that will be needed on the journey. There was on one side the a cot one which full bed was ceremoniously decorated and on its sides many house hold items including cooking vessels and daily use of clothes were placed. On one end, chair was bedecked with silk and ornaments on which a huge picture of my father was kept. Slowly the chanting grew up in volume and the priests asked us to go and get our mother. With my mother many of the local women folk came out in a group and our ladies walked in beside her. The whole atmosphere just turned from spiritual color to one of sadness and many of the relatives who have come to this place from far off places in India and abroad felt the pain of my mother. The idea was to let the people close to my father pay their farewell and finally let him go.

After the ceremony was over all our elderly relative joined in the ceremony of placing headgear to my elder brother which basically means that he now takes over from my father as the head of the family. As ours is a joint family with all five of our brithers living together, the relatives and all of us acknowledged my elder brither as the head of the family which makes it easier for some of the common decisions to be taken easily and the transition is smooth.

The evening saw thousands of village folks gathering from all around to join in the feast and make show their respect to the departed soul. As per custom, all brothers joined in to serve to the village folks starting with the Brahmins who have had performed the last rites.

Slowly the rush of the people trickled down and the night brought in a sense of sadness descended on me. I was feeling lonely and depressed so I walked into the temple and sat down to mediate. The Bhagwati mantra started slowly engulfing me and I felt the presence of many of the people in the temple. My grand father in his attire of pure white looked so peaceful and many of my uncle’s specially joined in. I felt the presence of my Maternal grandfather who was believed to be so close to Durga ji that many people said that he talked to her most of the times. It felt soothing and I relaxed and let my mind wander among the stars.

Om Namah Shivaya Virtual


Blogger Vami said...

Hi Virtual,
your descriptions in this post made me feel as if i was in this village. i realized that we also do the same ceremonies when someone has departed. some of the things you described was done in a less elaborate manner though because poverty was prevalent in the days of my ancestors and they did not have all the "ingredients" needed to conduct these ceremonies. In addition, Hindus were not allowed to be cremated in Trinidad until the late 1940s (thanks to colonial rule) so many of them were buried. In my country, we call the 13 days the "bandara."
I like the spiritual aspects of your blog. keep them coming!

6:32 AM  
Blogger Virtual said...

HI Vami...

I write this blog as and how my thoughts flow so its straight from the heart and yes I also relive those moments as being in the village itself. There has always been an spiritual aspect to all the things that I do some how it gets entwined in the whole story itself… and it makes me happy to have this thread running besides the story.

Om Namah Shivaya

5:33 PM  
Blogger Vami said...

I realized that too=0) smile!

5:05 AM  
Blogger Tessa said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


10:38 AM  

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