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Unexpected News

Yesterday, in the early afternoon, the servant of Mrs. Suman Sharma, a neighbourhood friend of mine, came to the gate and invited me to a 'Shanti Path' in Suman's house at 5 pm in the evening.  I told him I would be there.

Now, a 'Shanti Path' is a religious ceremony performed in a home when someone has died.  I was a little embarrassed to ask the servant who had passed away.  I'm a friend, I should know.  My mother in law advised me to just go, and find out when I got there.

I didn't reach Suman's house, a large house standing in its own land a few hundred yards away from my own house, until around 6 o'clock, but the ceremony was only beginning.  I quickly took in what was going on, and realised that the deceased was none other than Suman's father-in-law, a wonderful old gentleman who had enjoyed good health right up to the very end of his life.  What a peaceful death.

Suman's late father in law was a very nice person.  He was a doctor and a former army officer too.  He had served in the Indian army during the time the British ruled India.  He had a store of wonderful memories which he loved to share.  He had married rather late and although he was 94, his eldest son is no older than fifty.  He was the father of two sons and a daughter.

I used to have long chats with him when I visited the house to see Suman.  He had a beautiful, nicely preserved piece of Irish linen which he had purchased in Ireland in 1957.  That was six years before I was born.  He was well read, and was constantly conversing on a variety of topics.  He had strong opinions on many aspects of Indian life and politics, and his views wouldn't have been too different from my blogging friend and rakhi brother Ramana.

I really thank God that I got an opportunity to meet this man and learn something from him.  We can learn a lot from the older generation if we really listen to what they are saying.

The family held a simple fire ceremony at home to pray peace for the departed soul.  The family were Brahmins, the priestly caste, but the ceremony was conducted by a Hindu organisation which doesn't recognise the caste system.  It was done in a very simple way, involving all the people who had come to attend.

Although a practising and believing Christian, I am amazed at how Hindu I have become.  I am quite at home attending havans (fire ceremonies).  I cover my head and sit on the floor along with everybody else.  I know how to chant the Gayatri Mantra, and hold the puja samagri (herbs) and add them to the sacred fire.  Usually, though, I keep my rosary discreetly inside my veil and pray that quietly.  I know I would have enjoyed life as a Hindu if I didn't happen to be a strong believer in Jesus Christ and a baptized Catholic.

I would love to see a more Indian form of worship in our Christian churches.  I would love to sit on the floor during Mass.  Sitting in chairs is not an Indian habit as such.  Unless health doesn't permit, of course.

I saw a scene in a film set in the orthodox Jewish yesterday.  The film was called "Loving Leah" and I hope to see it fully one day soon.  In the scene I saw, Leah lighted the sabbath candles and blessed herself with the flame.  It was just like the Hindu 'aarti', when we see the lighted diya (sacred lamp) and bless ourselves with the flame.

Really, we are all going towards the same God.


  1. I enjoyed your post, but have to disagree that we are not all going towards the same God. There is only one true God, which is the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Hindu's worship a false god. God's blessings. Lloyd

  2. Maria, I am a Christian, too, but I agree with you. Our place of origin shapes our approach to God. I believe that God honors all that is sincere, as none of us knows all about Him. Isn't it amazing how much in common different religions have--such as the fire blessing? Loved your post. C

  3. I'm sorry for your loss, Gaelikaa.

    The way of life where you are sounds so different than what I know. I find it touching that someone would come around personally to request your attendance. I think it's so much warmer that this ceremony took place in their home. Everything sounds so much more personal and connected. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. You are so right, all going to the same god just different paths. It is such a shame that that is not more universally recognized. Just think how much less violence there would be if people didn't feel it necessary to impose their personal views on everyone else.

    And what a coincidence. At yoga last week, we were introduced to the Gayatri Mantra.

  5. Suman's father-in-law was very fortunate to have good health right to the end. The fire ceremony sounds interesting, I would love to learn more about it.


  6. "We can learn a lot from the older generation if we really listen to what they are saying." This guy Ramana seems to be quite a dude! He too is from an older generation to you. You bet that you can learn a lot from him.

  7. Ooooooh! Sitting on the floor.... ouch! Bit hard on the old bones. Mind you, the pews are very uncomfortable in church.
    I am glad that you could share in the death ceremonies for your friend.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  8. Lovely. I love hearing about these ceremonies, of which I know so little.

  9. That last sentence sums it up for me. So many blessings may God bring your way... :)))


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