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Some traditions must remain

by Vijay Garg
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The crematorium was familiar with the word Vairagya, but in the past, another wonderful word was introduced – ‘crematorium-brother’.  A friend had reached the cremation ground on the death of the writer.  Seeing the burning pyre sitting there, everyone was diving into the vortex of crematorium renunciation.  The longer a man stays in the cremation ground, the more he goes through a sense of dispassion.  Some people were also talking among themselves, but in a very slow voice, because the cremation ground must have a discipline of its own.  By the way, the best thing is to be silent if possible.  It is written outside the cemetery of the Parsis that ‘Tower of Silence’ means that you have to remain completely silent there.
The truth of life is that one who has come will die one day.  Of course, we should celebrate the birth, but by remaining silent for a few moments, try to pay true tribute to the soul, which is no longer with us.  Such people would be entitled to be called true cremation-brothers.  Otherwise, hypocrisy is in our nature.  Perhaps that is why many people can be seen laughing and chatting in the cremation ground too.
These people are not great men who understand the philosophy of life and death, but are people present for show.  Looking at the faces of some people, it is not understood whether they have come in the funeral procession or in any marriage ceremony.  Whereas this discipline is still followed in Bengali society, where funerals are performed by observing complete silence.  I think, we all, every society person should become a true crematorium-brother and show him to be a sensitive human being.
We stood in silence at the funeral.  Then a gentleman came and handed over a small bottle of water.  Even it was fine, because the throat gets dry in the summer season.  But after some time another gentleman came before me with samosas and gulab jamuns kept in a pair.  This scene was unexpected.  The gentleman said, ‘Receive it!’ I said, ‘How is it possible that the pyre is burning in front of the cremation ground and I should eat something?’ Hearing me, the son of the deceased standing nearby said, ‘Uncle,  This is a tradition.
Those who participate in the funeral procession, we call them cremation-brothers.  It is an age-old tradition that some refreshments are offered to the crematoriums.  This gives satisfaction to the dead soul, so don’t deny it.’ Hearing him, I extended my hand to break a piece of samosa, then he said, ‘No, you take gulab jamun.  Dad loved sweets.  Don’t deny it, please!’ I reluctantly accepted half the gulab jamun.
This was the first time in life, when eating something in the cremation ground.  But from that day onwards, this thing kept reverberating in my mind that what different and wonderful traditions are prevailing in different societies, understanding the practical aspect of which gives reverence to the thinking of our forefathers.  By the way, how can one have breakfast in the cremation ground, but there is also one side that people who come there have to sit for hours, so it is natural that they will feel hungry and thirsty, so arrangements should be made for refreshments.
Centuries ago when there were forests everywhere.  The settlements used to be few, then after the death of someone, he was cremated on the banks of the river.  They used to sprinkle lye on the dead body while walking, so that they do not get lost in the forest, so that when they return after the funeral, they do not forget the way.  The color of the lye is white and it is easily visible on the way.
This tradition continues even today.  There is another custom in Bengali society that until the pyre is completely cooled, the family members stay in the crematorium.  Rest all are requested that you guys can go home after bowing to the pyre.  After the pyre cools down, the family will go home only after collecting the ashes and bones.  Earlier, the rest of the people used to go to the forest and cut the wood to make the pyre.  A person used to sit nearby to look after the dead body.  Although there are electric crematoriums now, we live in cities.  But whatever traditions are there, they are followed by the people of the society even today.
I think, some traditions should remain.  It is these traditions that keep our inner man alive.  The custom of death feast has ended in many societies, but the tradition of calling the crematorium-brothers and feeding them sweets continues even today.  It is also going to show the ‘Madhuren ending’ of life.

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