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View Full Version : A.08 - First Ceremony



vcnavega
December 27th, 2013, 08:36 PM
“The day after we scattered Valter’s ashes, the first funeral ceremony was performed at the Keshi Ghata, in the banks of the Yamuna River. That place is really beautiful, you know. I wish I knew how to describe it with words, but words can’t do it, even if I was a good writer, which I am not. Keshi Ghata is like Heaven on Earth, and I am not a heavenly being. I knew when I was there I was in a place that didn’t belong to this dimension.”
That ceremony didn’t demand much from me in terms of speaking Sanskrit, but I was introduced to other things I didn’t know I knew. Most of the chanting was done by the priest himself, and it was quite complex, I wouldn’t be able to repeat those words anyway if they’d wanted me to. My role on that ceremony was to feed my brother and my ancestors and then to unite my brother with them – but the process for doing that is very ritualistic, and that demanded my whole attention. I couldn’t think about the Italians, and even the monk who was trying to translate the priest’s instructions for me bothered me. I had to tell that monk to stop at one point, I was able to understand his Hindi and signs quite well, and didn’t need translation. I needed to focus on the mudras I was expected to perform. Mudras are gestures we do with the hands and they are
extremely complicated – right hand does one thing, left hand another; you use your fingers in different positions. I felt some lack of motor coordination at the beginning, because some of the gestures are very difficult, but the priest told me I was doing it perfectly. He would say “Bahut acchat”, ‘very good, very good’!
With my hands placed in those awkward positions I carried some water and drew some yantras, some sacred drawings, on the earth, to invite my brother and my ancestors to feast. Those drawings are also very intricate, full of details. I don’t have any painting skills, and it did not help that my hands were placed the way they were for the mudras. I had to draw one yantra for my brother, one for my father, one for my grandfather, and one for all my other ancestors; that made four yantras. Then, the priest’s attendants gave me four pieces of dough, which would represent each of them. I had to bathe them - in Hindu culture people don’t eat before bathing first. This meant using fragrant oils and all that you can imagine a decent Hindu bath deserves. The act of bathing them required from me new mudras and yantras, and I was not using only water, but many other
ingredients. I had to purify my hands all the time, and when I forgot to do it,
the priests seemed to be very upset. There was a flow, a timing, I couldn’t let my ancestors wait, it seems that dead people are hungry. I am used to doing things very fast, but in order to perform the ceremony correctly I had to slow down. It is really hard for me to do things slowly, I was doing things as fast as I could, but there were so many details.”


“How long did this whole ceremony take?”


“Well, we started it at dawn, and I guess it was over by noon. I lost track of time, I could see in the background the Italians were anxious, they were not used to sitting on the floor for so long, but they could walk to stretch their legs; I was the one who had to be seated in the same position for hours, my legs got numb at some point, and I couldn’t feel them anymore. That was not the longest ceremony, though, the final one
took more than 12 hours; they had to carry me when it was finished, because I couldn’t stand up by myself.
Anyway, after I bathed them all, they were ready to eat. We served mostly sweets; and again I was holding the morsels with my hands posited in those strange mudras, I don’t know how nothing fell out of my hands, but I managed to place the sweets in front of my ancestors quite gently.
After they ate, it was time to unite my brother with my father. That part of the ceremony was quite emotional for me. I don’t like to think it was my imagination, I did see Valter, and I did see my father in front of me, and I saw them embracing when I mixed the two pieces of dough. You may call me crazy, but I get that a lot. I just know I was happy to see the two of them together again. I tried to control myself so I wouldn’t cry. This is why women are not good for this kind of thing, you see, usually they prefer a male relative to perform the ceremonies. We women get too emotional, you know.
Mixing them with my grandfather and my ancestors was easier, because I didn’t know them, but then I saw Valter again. He stared at me, and I said in my mind ‘Go! Don’t look back! You are free now, just go.’ I knew I wouldn’t see him anymore, and this is the truth, he never appeared to me even in a dream, I made sure of that in that ceremony, he would be gone for good. If I was the one who had died and Valter had lived he wouldn’t be able to cope with the pain. I didn’t want him to miss
me. I wanted him to leave without missing me. He smiled, and left. That was the last time I saw my brother.
I am crying now. I am sorry, I didn’t want to cry, but that scene is so real to me, more real than the scene of his dead body on my kitchen floor. I didn’t cry at the ceremony. I didn’t want Valter to cry, so I smiled at him. They took me to Yamuna; I had to dive in the river again to purify myself after the ceremony, and as always Yamuna was so warm and comforting, so hard to leave.”


“Now you can cry. Cry, that’s okay.”