Hindu tradition, everyday life and being closer to God

My father told me that the shopkeeper sells 'funeral related things'. What I called 'pyre groceries'! Photo: A Hindu funeral pyre

NEW DELHI, April 15, 2013 - Hinduism has no dearth of rituals.

From birth to death, there is a ritual associated with everything you do. Whether its a small morning prayer ritual before you step out of your home, or a big grand one when you moves houses, get married or have a child, everything comes with its own package of the ‘how to do’ list.

And when it comes to death, the last rites are performed with a lot of detail, including the ingredients used in the ceremony.

Hindus believe in cremating the dead by giving their bodies to the God of fire. A funeral pyre is lit, usually by the male child of the deceased, amid chanting of hymns and verses from religious texts.

But how that funeral pyre is lit is what struck me recently.

While passing through a crematorium, I saw a little shop outside its boundary walls selling flowers and incense sticks etc.

Like an innocent yet inquisitive child, I just laughed at what I thought was funny and told my father, ‘look what a silly guy, is this a place to open a shop’?

My father’s answer to that gave me a whole new perspective on life in what I would like to call a small yet precious moment.

He told me that this shopkeeper sells ‘funeral related things’. What I then just called ‘pyre groceries’!

And then we carried the joke forward. I said, ‘oh I am sure he is never out of business. No matter what time of the day, what season of the year, his shop is always open! And then, I am sure no one bargains with him. After all, who would be in a negotiating mode when coming to him to buy things for the last rites of a loved one?’

‘And like God, he doesn’t worry about new year or Diwali or any such festive time as a high or low business period’, Dad added. ‘Probably he’s the closest to God then’, I replied.

But think about it, it would be so nice we were such ‘shopkeepers’ in our lives. Not worried about rain, sun, heat, cold, birthdays, anniversaries…blah blah blah. What if we just carried on with life in a normal flow?

Wouldn’t that be closer to God?

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Manu Arya

If I knew the answer to ‘who am I’ I would not have had the need to write this bio. But until I do, I can just say that for me, everything in life hangs by a thread of faith and destiny. Add a pinch of hard work to that, and you’ll have your choice of life served on a platter to you!

It’s magic to be born and brought up in India of today. A society that offers a blend of traditional with the modern, mystic with logic, religion with secularism, and science with faith; India is the place to be! For several years, people from across the world have knocked at India’s doors whenever they needed a bit of soul-searching. But today’s soul-searching comes with a twist! While India is no more just a land of snake-charmers and elephants, it continues to offer its vibrant culture, traditions and history to the world in a modernized, re-packaged manner.  I welcome you to join me in my journey of soul-searching in the current times. I can guarantee you that even if we get lost, we’ll get somewhere!


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